Reporting Jeff Wald
MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – As much as we were all looking forward football season starting, it’s now hitting its home stretch.
After eight weeks of great games and rivalry match-ups, some teams must face the reality that they’re having their final practices. It’s the playoffs and you now either survive and advance or lose and turn in your gear the next morning. The latter is a scenario no team wants to face.
The playoffs start next week across the state in all sections of all seven, yes seven, classes of high school football. Six teams are looking to defend state championships. Those include Edgerton/Ellsworth (9-Man), Dawson-Boyd (1A), Caledonia (2A), St. Croix Lutheran (3A), Rocori (4A) and Eden Prairie (5A). Here’s a glance at some of the brackets.
Of course there’s the new 6A, featuring the 32 biggest schools in the state. Until two weeks ago, Eden Prairie was the favorite to win the class. That all changed when the Eagles ended the season with losses to Edina and Wayzata. Those three teams, plus Minnetonka and Hopkins, make up the top five seeds in Section 6 of the new class. To say one word: Loaded.
Section 3 is essentially the South Suburban Conference teams plus Park of Cottage Grove. Prior Lake and Lakeville North will likely battle for the state bid in that bracket. Another loaded bracket is in Section 4 with Stillwater as the top seed, followed by Mounds View and Cretin-Derham Hall. That’s a toss-up.
In Section 5, it looks to be a collision course for rivals Osseo and Maple Grove to meet in the championship.
Section 2 in Class 4A is among the most loaded in the state also, with Hutchinson and Marshall undefeated at 8-0 and Glencoe-Silver Lake at 7-1.
Defending 3A champion St. Croix Lutheran is the top seed in Section 4 of that class. They’re in a tough bracket with Concordia Academy of Roseville, Cannon Falls and Minnehaha Academy rounding out the top four seeds. I expect St. Croix Lutheran to get through that bracket on the way to defending a state title.
The bottom line is we’re in playoff time now, and there’s no easy games. Not with the win-or-go-home scenario that every team faces. This is when the best players in the state emerge and you see how tough some teams are when adversity strikes.
Buckle up and enjoy the ride. Before you know it, teams will be playing for trophies in the Metrodome the day after stuffing themselves with turkey.