Prep Blog: Week 3, Previewing ‘The Big 4’

It’s Rivalry Week in Minnesota high school football. There is always that one week for any football program that means a little more than all the others.

Every game is big, but it’s even bigger when you face your rival. It might be a neighboring school, it’s definitely a familiar face. Most of all, it’s that team that gets under your skin just enough to play a little harder. It’s the team you have to beat.

There are great match-ups all over Minnesota this week. Most are between rivals and some feature highly-ranked teams squaring off. It’s what high school football is all about. Here are four of this week’s top football games.

St. Michael-Albertville (2-0) at Rogers (2-0)

There might not be a better rivalry in the northwest Twin Cities metro. They’re two very good football teams, and they’re always seemingly near the top of the rankings when they play. Rogers, ranked No. 6 in Class 5A, hosts No. 1-ranked and defending state champion St. Michael-Albertville Friday night. The two schools are separated by about eight miles and the Crow River. It’s our Featured Game for WCCO-TV’s High School Sports Rally.

The Knights are 2-0 on the season after beating Moorhead 16-6 in their opener and Big Lake 42-10 last week. St. Michael-Albertville hasn’t lost since its season opener last year, which was to Moorhead. The Knights have won 14 straight since, and that includes two against Rogers. The Knights win with a stiff defense and a stout run game. They’re led by running back Mitch Kartes, who has 183 rushing yards and five touchdowns on the season.

Rogers is 2-0 with a 17-14 win over Sartell-St. Stephen in its season opener, followed by a 56-7 win over Princeton last week. The Royals had their season end last year in a section championship game loss to St. Michael-Albertville, 28-21. Through two games, quarterback Tanner Palm has 258 passing yards and three touchdowns.

It’s always a great game that comes down to the wire between the Royals and Knights, and this game will likely be won at the line of scrimmage.

Cooper (2-0) at Armstrong (1-1)

It’s the battle for bragging rights in Robbinsdale Friday night as Armstrong hosts Cooper. The Hawks are 2-0 with wins over Bloomington Jefferson and Benilde-St. Margaret’s. The Falcons lost to Chanhassen 49-28 in their opener, but recovered last week with a 42-19 win at St. Louis Park. Through two games, Armstrong running back Cartier Reed has 304 rushing yards and four touchdowns. Cooper is led by the duo of quarterback Cameron King and running back C.J. Adams. King has 287 passing yards and four touchdowns in two games, while Adams has 216 yards rushing and three scores.

Prior Lake (0-2) at Wayzata (1-1)

Wayzata will be facing a desperate football team when it hosts Prior Lake Friday night. The Lakers are off to an unexpected 0-2 start, and they’ll be looking to get revenge on a 24-17 loss to Wayzata last year. Prior Lake has opened with losses to Centennial and Minnetonka. Wayzata lost its opener to Blaine 33-21, but bounced back last week with a 42-7 win at Shakopee.

Cretin-Derham Hall (2-0) at Stillwater (2-0)

They were rivals in the old Suburban East Conference and they’ll be top-10 teams when they meet Friday night. Stillwater, ranked No. 9 in Class 6A, hosts No. 7-ranked Cretin-Derham Hall. Both squads are unbeaten at 2-0. The Ponies are off to an impressive after beating Eagan 36-7 in Week 1, followed by a 14-0 shutout over Roseville last week. The Raiders beat Lakeville South 19-14 in their opener and followed that with a 22-12 win over Woodbury last week. When the two teams met last year, Cretin-Derham Hall prevailed with a 31-21 victory.

Tune into WCCO-TV’s High School Sports Rally at about 10:20 p.m. Friday as Mike Max, Frank Vascellaro and David McCoy will have all the action covered.

More from Jeff Wald
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