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

It’s hard to believe, but the Minnesota high school football season will be at the halfway point after this week.

It’s the point in the year where most programs know where the year is headed. Those that are undefeated are trying to keep the momentum going and build to a playoff run. For those teams that have started slow, there’s still time to salvage the regular season.

But now summer is officially over. T-shirts and sunglasses on Friday nights are soon to be replaced by blankets and coffee or hot chocolate. It’s why we love football in Minnesota.

There are a ton of great match-ups this week and several featuring teams either undefeated or still with plenty to play for. Here are our top four games.

Blaine (3-0) at Champlin Park (2-1)

It’s a great rivalry in the northwest Twin Cities metro, and No. 4-ranked Blaine is putting its undefeated season on the line at Champlin Park Friday night. The Rebels are looking to avenge a loss to the Bengals last year, and it’s our featured game on WCCO-TV’s High School Sports Rally.

The Bengals are 3-0 to start the season, and they’re not lacking offense in their victories. Blaine has put up at least 33 points three straight weeks. They put up 42 in a win at Centennial last week and scored 45 two weeks ago against Coon Rapids. The Bengals are led by quarterback K.J. Downey, who is throwing for about 130 yards per game and has five passing touchdowns. He’s also their second-leading rusher at 56 yards per game and two scores. Chase Harper leads the Blaine ground game with 92 yards per game and six touchdowns.

Champlin Park has won two straight games since an opening loss to Minnetonka. The Rebels knocked off Coon Rapids 21-18 last week and shut out Centennial 7-0 in Week 2. Champlin Park is led by running back Ernest Worjoh’s 128 yards per game and two touchdowns. Wide receiver Cameron Witt has 11 catches on the year for 209 yards and three scores.

When the two teams met last year, Blaine came away with a 21-13 victory. It’s always a competitive game that usually comes down to the wire when these two rivals meet.

Chaska (2-1) at Waconia (2-1)

Two teams are both looking for a big victory Friday night, but only one can get it as Waconia hosts Chaska in a battle of 2-1 teams. The Hawks have won two straight since a Week 1 loss to Spring Lake Park. They beat Bloomington Kennedy 37-6 last week and Richfield 34-20 in Week 2. It would be a big win with Holy Angels, Chanhassen and Orono looming on the schedule. Waconia got off to a 2-0 start before being tripped up by Chanhassen 20-16 last week.

Eden Prairie (2-1) at Maple Grove (2-1)

They might be the best teams in the state to each have a loss through three weeks of action, and they meet Friday night. Maple Grove, ranked No. 3 in Class 6A, hosts No. 4-ranked Eden Prairie. When the two teams met last year, Eden Prairie escaped with a 28-20 victory. The Crimson enter Friday’s game coming off their first loss of the season, 21-20 at Edina. They have victories over Osseo and Hopkins. Eden Prairie has recovered from a season-opening loss to Totino-Grace with wins over Edina and Hopkins. Eden Prairie hasn’t lost two regular season games since the 2012 season.

St. Michael-Albertville (3-0) at Elk River (3-0)

St. Michael-Albertville got a huge win at rival Rogers last week, and now they take their show on the road again to face another undefeated team. Elk River, ranked No. 5 in Class 5A, hosts the No. 1-ranked nights in another big game. The Elks have allowed just seven points all season. They beat Brainerd 42-0 in their opener, Chisago Lakes 44-7 in Week 2 and Cambridge-Isanti 33-0 last week. That defense will be tested even though St. Michael-Albertville struggled against a tough Rogers defense last week in a 23-12 victory. The Knights control their regular season destiny with a win Friday night.

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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