Reporting Jeff Wald
MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – We’re less than two weeks away from the start of the regular season in high school football across the state. That means teams have gone from tryouts to solidifying rosters and getting ready for that all-important season opener.
One of the more fun football games of the fall is the Twin Cities Championship, where the winners of the Minneapolis and St. Paul City Conferences meet for bragging rights. Earlier this week we previewed Minneapolis side of things, where Washburn is the favorite until somebody knocks them off.
St. Paul Central the early favorite again?
The Millers have dominated that league for some time, and to a certain extent the same can be said for Central in the St. Paul City Conference. The Minutemen went 5-0 last year in league play and were never really challenged for the city title. They edged Washburn 24-21 to win the Twin Cities title last fall.
St. Paul Central has had a say in the last four league titles and won three of those outright. In addition to the 2012 title, the Minutemen went 5-0 to win the league in 2010 and shared it with Highland Park and Como Park in 2009 as they all had 4-1 marks. Central won the league outright back in 2008 with a 6-0 record. They’ve also beaten Washburn three straight years in the Twin Cities Championship.
Central is the early favorite again in the St. Paul City Conference. It comes with the territory of being 14-1 in their last 15 league games. But it won’t be an easy task to repeat as they’ll have a tough early schedule against Minneapolis Southwest to start and then Columbia Heights, both on the road, before entering conference play.
Can Highland Park, Harding contend?
The two most likely teams to challenge St. Paul Central for the league title are most likely Highland Park and Harding. Both squads were above .500 in league play last year and finished the season with 6-4 records despite not getting very far in the postseason.
Harding ended its 2012 season with a 30-13 loss to state tournament team Hill-Murray, while Highland Park suffered a tough loss to Holy Angels. Central was shutout by Andover 30-0. Knowing these three teams will likely contend for the league crown this season, there’s a key match-up in Week 3 as Harding will host Central. The Minutemen host Highland Park in Week 7.
Harding and Highland Park square off early this year as the Scots host the Knights in Week 2 on the Friday after Labor Day. That’s arguably the biggest game of the year in the league as the winner there will have the driver’s seat to contend with Central for the St. Paul City Conference title.
Don’t sleep on St. Paul Johnson
Keep an eye on the Governors this year. The squad is typically very fast, athletic and tends to give a lot of teams trouble. They’ll look to gain confidence early with games against Minneapolis Henry in the opener and against a Como Park squad that won just one game last year to open the conference season.
They’ll see where their team is at by the end of Week 3, when they travel to Minneapolis South. The Governors went 2-3 in league play last year but managed to handle Henry and North in non-conference action. Johnson is also looking to get back on top after winning the St. Paul City Conference win 2005 and 2006. At one point, the Governors had won 15 straight league games.
It’ll be a very intriguing league to keep an eye on this year. Central is the favorite, but after that it’s pretty much anyone’s guess as to who will challenge them.
The “Zero Week” of high school football season kicks off Friday night with 11 games around the state. Check back with the WCCO Prep Blog on Friday for a preview of four big games to get things started.
St. Paul City Conference 2012 Standings
Central 5-0 (8-1)
Highland Park 4-1 (6-4)
Harding 3-2 (6-4)
Johnson (2-3) 4-5
Como Park 1-4 (1-8)
Humboldt 0-5 (2-7)