By Jeff Wald

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Many high school athletes might have had trouble getting to sleep Sunday night. When a new year and a new season gets underway, the excitement is hard to contain.

That was the case for the state’s prep football players as official workouts began across Minnesota Monday morning. Some schools even held midnight practices, stealing the tradition of “Midnight Madness” from basketball. In any event, the dreams of conference titles, state tournament bids and state championships start Monday across the board.

Prep football seems to get bigger every year in Minnesota. The athletes get bigger and better, and the games are more meaningful as smaller schools opt up to play with the big programs and sometimes David overcomes Goliath.

It’s a new season, and this year a new class has been added to the state hierarchy. Class 6A will have its inaugural playoff this year. It features the 32 biggest schools in Minnesota that will be divided into four sections of eight teams each. That means there’s a shake-up in the playoffs since you don’t have your normal eight sections of teams.

Each section will be seeded 1-8 the same way that other football sections get paired. The four highest remaining seeds from each section after the first round of playoff games will be paired against the lowest remaining seed from the crossover section they are paired with. The eight teams that win those games will be your Class 6A State Tournament field. The top four teams will be seeded, and their opponents will be determined by a blind draw.

Here’s how the sections shake out:

One section would have the biggest schools from the south metro (Burnsville, Lakeville North, Lakeville South, Prior Lake, Rosemount, Eagan, Eastview and Park Cottage Grove). Another section will feature the big schools from the west metro (Eden Prairie, Edina, Minnetonka, Shakopee, Wayzata, Hopkins, Armstrong and Minneapolis South). The third section is from the north metro (Anoka, Champlin Park, Blaine, Coon Rapids, Osseo, Maple Grove, Brainerd and Centennial). The fourth section will be schools in the east metro (Woodbury, Mounds View, Roseville, North St. Paul, Stillwater, Cretin-Derham Hall, Forest Lake and White Bear Lake).

And no worries to you high school football fans out there, it doesn’t change the scheduling for the Prep Bowl at the Metrodome. The 6A state championship game will be played in primetime on the Friday night after Thanksgiving.

So who are the favorites this year to win their conference, get to the state playoffs and contend for a Prep Bowl title? Here’s a quick look back at least year.

2011 State Champions
5A – Eden Prairie (Now in Class 6A, defeated Wayzata 13-3 in the 2011 Prep Bowl to finish 12-1)
4A – Rocori (finished 12-1, defeated Bemidji  17-10 in 2011 Prep Bowl)
3A – St. Croix Lutheran (14-0, defeated Fairmont 34-32 in 2011 Prep Bowl)
2A – Caledonia (13-1, defeated Moose Lake/Willow River 27-0 in 2011 Prep Bowl)
A – Dawson-Boyd (14-0, defeated Mahnomen 35-20 in 2011 Prep Bowl)
9-Man – Edgerton/Ellsworth (14-0, defeated Wheaton-Herman-Norcross 36-28 in 2011 Prep Bowl)

Here is also a look at the 2011 conference champions around the metro. I’ve included their conference record and how their season finished.
Missota – Shakopee (7-0, lost to Chanhassen in section quarterfinals)
Big 9 – Mankato West (7-0, lost to Bemdji in Class 4A state semifinals)
Central Lakes – Rocori (5-1, 4A Champion)
Classic Suburban – St. Thomas Academy (7-0, lost to South St. Paul in section championship)
Minneapolis City – Washburn (5-0, lost to Holy Family Catholic in section final)
Mississippi 8 – Rogers (5-1, lost to Rocori in state quarterfinals)
Lake – Wayzata (4-0, 12-1, lost to Eden Prairie in 5A Prep Bowl)
North Suburban – Totino-Grace (6-0, lost to Eden Prairie in 5A state semifinals) – there is a guarantee of a new conference champion here as Totino-Grace has moved to the Northwest Suburban Conference
Northwest Suburban – Anoka (7-0, lost to Eden Prairie in 5A state quarterfinals)
South Suburban – Lakeville North (7-0, lost to Cretin-Derham Hall in 5A state quarterfinals)
St. Paul City – St. Paul Central (5-0, lost to Mahtomedi in section semifinals)
Suburban East – Cretin-Derham Hall (8-0, lost to Wayzata in 5A state semifinals)
Tri-Metro – St. Croix Lutheran (8-0, 3A Champion)
Wright County – Hutchinson (7-0, lost to Mankato West in section championship)

The WCCO Prep Blog could not be more excited for football season to start. We’re back for another year with previews of four games every week, including the featured Game of the Week for Friday night’s episode of High School Sports Rally. We’ll also note some of the top performances from games every week. Enjoy the action.


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