Prep Blog: Week 8, Previewing ‘The Big 4’

It’s a hectic week for high school football teams in Minnesota.

There wasn’t much time to celebrate a win last Friday or regroup after a loss. It’s MEA week in Minnesota, which means no school on Thursday or Friday. It also means most high school football games are Wednesday night.

A short week means more time in the film room and more walk-throughs as teams get ready for the final game of the regular season. After Week 8, teams are only guaranteed one more game and then it’s survive and advance.

It’s the last week for teams to build momentum for the playoffs. Undefeated regular seasons and sub-district titles are on the line. Perhaps just as important is confidence heading into the postseason. Here are four of Wednesday’s top match-ups.

Spring Lake Park (7-0) at Cooper (7-0)

It doesn’t get much better than top 10 teams meeting in the regular season finale for a division title. That’s the case Wednesday night as Cooper, ranked No. 6 in Class 5A, hosts No. 3-ranked Spring Lake Park. Both teams are a perfect 7-0 and the winner gets the Suburban District Red Division title.

The Panthers survived overtime to beat Benilde-St. Margaret’s 19-13 last week. They’ll be looking for another victory over the Hawks after beating them 49-28 last year. Spring Lake Park enters the game with nine straight wins over Cooper. The Panthers are led by dual threat quarterback Zach Ojile, who rushes for 142 yards per game and has 10 rushing touchdowns on the year.

Cooper is winning this season largely with its defense. In four straight games, the Hawks have allowed seven points or fewer. They’ve also scored at least 28 points in six of their seven games, and have scored 30 or more five times. The Hawks are led by quarterback Cameron King, who is passing for 180 yards per game with 11 touchdowns. Running back C.J. Adams is rushing for 119 yards per game with six touchdowns.

Rosemount (6-1) at Lakeville North (7-0)

It should be a festive atmosphere south of the Twin Cities metro Wednesday night as Lakeville North, ranked No. 2 in Class 6A, hosts No. 7-ranked Rosemount. A Panthers victory earns them the East Metro District White Division title. Rosemount can claim a share of the division title with a victory. Lakeville North had a perfect regular season going last year before losing to the Irish in Week 8. The Panthers are led by running back Wade Sullivan, one of the best in the metro, who is averaging 169 yards per game and has 24 touchdowns. In four of their last five games, all victories, the Irish defense has allowed a total of four points.

East Ridge (6-1) at Woodbury (3-4)

The battle for bragging rights in one east metro community is at stake Wednesday night as Woodbury hosts East Ridge, ranked No. 3 in Class 6A. The Raptors have won six straight since a season-opening loss to Lakeville North, and they’ll have to beat their rival without top running back Dominik London. The Gophers commit has a sprained ankle and likely won’t play. Woodbury had a three-game win streak snapped last week after falling at Mounds View, 28-26. When the two rivals met last year, East Ridge claimed the 31-21 victory.

Elk River (7-0) at Moorhead (4-3)

Elk River might be the quietest No. 1-ranked team in some time. The Elks are undefeated at 7-0, but have gone largely unnoticed this season. They head to Moorhead Wednesday night to face a Spuds team that has won four of its last five games after starting 0-2. Elk River is led by the running back duo of Sam Gibas and Nick Rice. Gibas is rushing for 103 yards per game with 11 touchdowns, while Rice averages 127 yards per game and has 12 touchdowns.

It’s an exciting time in football with league titles on the line. The playoffs follow, and anything can happen in the postseason.

More from Jeff Wald

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