Reporting Jeff Wald
MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – It’s a huge week for many teams around the state in high school football. It still feels like things just got started, but the reality is there are just two weeks left in the regular season.
Conference championships and seeds for the section playoffs are at stake for a lot of teams. Many programs are still batting for at least one home playoff game, and in the postseason, that can be a huge factor for a team making a run to the state tournament.
Week 7 is also a pivotal one as every team has a short turnaround to the final week of the regular season with state teacher conference week ahead. Next week’s games are all Wednesday night, leaving teams two less days to prepare for the regular season finale.
Last week, several games got delayed or even postponed due to storms and lightning. This week there are chances for rain, but mostly it looks to be a much calmer night from Mother Nature on the football field. It’s shaping up to be another big night with a lot on the line for many teams. Here’s our big match-ups for Friday night.
Featured Game: Rochester Lourdes (5-1) at Kasson-Mantorviile (6-0)
There’s an absolute gem of a game Friday night just west of Rochester between two ranked teams with conference title implications on the line as Kasson-Mantorville will host Rochester Lourdes. The Komets come in undefeated at 6-0 and are ranked No. 3 in Class 4A. The Eagles, who were in the Prep Bowl last year, are 5-1 and ranked No. 2 in Class 3A.
It’s a match-up of the top two teams in the Red Division of the Southern Football Alliance. With a win, Kasson-Mantorville can clinch at least a share of the conference title. Lourdes can make it quite the race for the league title if it can claim the road victory. When the two squads faced off last year in Rochester, it was Lourdes who came away with a 36-28 victory.
You can bet the Komets will be hungry with chance to at least tie for a league title by winning. They’re led by quarterback Brady Berge, who is also their leading rusher. He’s definitely a bigger threat to run, averaging almost 120 yards rushing per game with six touchdowns. Berge and the team’s other quarterback, Collin Ripley, have a combined four passing touchdowns on the year. Kasson-Mantorville is coming off a 22-0 shutout win over Stewartville and hasn’t really been tested since a Week 2 win over La Crescent.
Rochester Lourdes suffered an overtime loss to that Stewartville squad in Week 3, and has won three straight with relative ease since. The Eagles beat La Crescent 41-21 last week. Lourdes runs the ball, and does it with balance as four players average at least 40 yards rushing per game. Kane Carstens leads the squad with about 88 yards per game and has six touchdowns. Quarterback Michael Brandt averages close to 60 yards rushing per game and has two rushing touchdowns. He also has two scores through the air.
With the home field advantage and wanting to get revenge for last year, I’ll pick Kasson-Mantorville to win a very tight contest.
Cambridge-Isanti (4-2) at St. Michael-Albertville (6-0)
St. Michael-Albertville, 6-0 and ranked No. 6 in Class 5A, has a critical home game in the Mississippi 8 Conference Friday. The Knights host Cambridge-Isanti, and with Rogers heavily favored to beat Big Lake, St. Michael-Albertville and Rogers will likely meet next week in a rivalry game for the league title. Both teams are coming off a win as the Knights handled Duluth East 40-6 last week, while Cambridge beat Buffalo 41-18. The Knights are led by quarterback Jackson Greenwaldt’s 506 passing yards and six touchdowns. St. Michael-Albertville also has a pair of rushing threats in Chris Kartes and Noah Evans, who have a combined 975 yards rushing and 11 touchdowns. Knowing what’s at stake and it being the Knights’ final regular season home game, I’ll take St. Michael-Albertville to win a close one.
Stillwater (3-3) at East Ridge (5-1)
If East Ridge has any plans of at least winning a share of the Suburban East title, it faces a must-win at home against Stillwater on Friday. The Raptors are without their top running threat in Nick Leach, but Austin Kamrath and Dominik London have combined for 11 rushing touchdowns in his absence. Quarterback Seth Green has 10 passing touchdowns on the season. Don’t expect the Ponies to go quietly as they’re led by running back Zach Knox’s 1,086 yards and 14 touchdowns. Trevor Tillett has also had a nice season at quarterback with 715 passing yards and five touchdowns to go along with three rushing TDs. I’ll pick East Ridge at home in a game that should be very close.
Elk River (1-5) at Osseo (5-1)
On paper, Osseo at 5-1 and ranked No. 6 in Class 6A should have no problem with Elk River in the Northwest Suburban Conference Friday night. But the Orioles will need to play like they’re desperate for a win being undefeated in league play with Totino-Grace on the horizon next week. Osseo is led by quarterback Matt Miedtke’s 1,415 passing yards and 14 touchdowns. The Orioles also feature the rushing tandem of Prince Krauh and Jamien Hampton, who have combined for 11 touchdowns. They’ve won four straight since losing to Minnetonka, but Elk River recovered from a tough early schedule to earn its first victory of the season last week against Armstrong. The Elks have some confidence back, but I don’t see Osseo losing at home. I’ll take the Orioles.
Extra: Hill-Murray (1-4) at Mahtomedi (3-2)
Don’t be surprised if Mahtomedi comes out a little angry against Hill-Murray Friday night in Classic Suburban Conference action. The Zephyrs suffered a surprising overtime loss to Tartan last week and have struggled since a 3-0 start. They’re led by running back Jackson Hull’s 719 rushing yards and eight touchdowns. Hill-Murray snapped a three-game losing streak by beating St. Louis Park last week. The Pioneers are led by quarterback Max Wilde’s 967 passing yards and five touchdowns, but he also has 12 interceptions. Running back Dusty Krueger has 449 rushing yards and seven touchdowns on the season. I expect Hill-Murray to give Mahtomedi a good game, but I’ll pick the Zephyrs at home.
Tune into WCCO-TV’s High School Sports Rally at about 10:20 p.m. Friday as Mike Max, Frank Vascellaro and John Lauritsen will have all the action covered. Also listen to the WCCO Radio High School Football Rally with Steve Thomson starting at 7 p.m.