It’s another huge week in high school football across Minnesota, and it’s hard to believe we’re already halfway through the regular season.
There are a ton of big games this week and some big rivalry games are being renewed. It’s a big week for many programs as some are trying to keep undefeated seasons alive, winning streaks are on the line and other teams are still looking for that big first victory.
In looking at the state polls, many of the usual suspects are in their expected places halfway through the season. One surprise is Burnsville, which rebounded from its first loss of the season to shut out Apple Valley last week. In Class 5A, Elk River is looking to bounce back after suffering its first loss of the season, 37-12 to St. Michael-Albertville.
There are great match-ups all over the place this week as we enter the second half of the regular season schedule. Here are four of the top games around the Twin Cities metro.
South St. Paul (3-1) at St. Thomas Academy (4-0)
It’s a new district, but the same rivalry exists as old conference foes meet Friday night when St. Thomas Academy hosts South St. Paul. The Cadets are 4-0 and ranked No. 4 in Class 5A. The Packers are 3-1 and looking for their third straight win. It’s our featured game for WCCO-TV’s High School Sports Rally.
St. Thomas Academy is unbeaten with wins over Mahtomedi, North St. Paul, Park of Cottage Grove and last week against Simley. The Cadets are led by quarterback Andrew Tri, who is throwing for 125 yards per game and has five passing touchdowns on the season. Running back Sean McFadden leads the ground game with 135 yards per game and three scores on the season. Woody Hubbell is the team’s top receiver with four touchdowns and about 85 yards per game on the season.
The Packers, as always, thrive in the rushing attack and are deep with running backs. Quarterback Dan Pietruszewski leads the rushing attack at 100 yards per game and 10 touchdowns. But he has plenty of help as Malik Holmes, Anthony Perez and Nathan Gobely all average at least 70 yards rushing per game. The trio also has four touchdowns combined on the season. After a 28-27 Week 2 loss to Park of Cottage Grove, the Packers beat Simley 35-20 and Hastings 34-28.
When South St. Paul faced St. Thomas Academy last season, the Packers escaped with a 23-21 victory. There is every reason to think Friday night’s game will be just as close. In the last five meetings between these two teams, St. Thomas Academy is 3-2.
Lakeville South (1-3) at Lakeville North (4-0)
Bragging rights in the city of Lakeville are on the line Friday night as Lakeville North hosts Lakeville South in a rivalry game. The Panthers are strong as usual and have victories against East Ridge, Eagan, Burnsville and Farmington at the midpoint of the season. They’re led by quarterback Drew Stewart, who throws for more than 150 yards per game and has seven passing touchdowns. Wade Sullivan also runs for about 110 yards per game and has five rushing touchdowns.
It’s been a frustrating season for Lakeville South, but much if that can be forgotten if it can pull the upset Friday night. The Cougars started the season with losses to Cretin-Derham Hall and Burnsville, beat Eagan 8-0 and lost at Rosemount 21-0 last week. The Cougars are led by quarterback Will Heller, who throws for about 120 yards per game and as two touchdowns.
Eastview (0-4) at Apple Valley (1-3)
Friends will be enemies for a few hours Friday night as the battle for Apple Valley takes place Friday night with Apple Valley hosting Eastview. It’s always a big game for both teams, especially this year with both programs struggling. The Eagles have lost three straight games since beating Forest Lake in their season opener. Eastview is struggling again this year after finishing 4-5 last season. The Lightning are 0-4 and have been outscored in their last two games by a combined 70-13.
Maple Grove (2-2) at Wayzata (4-0)
It’s a huge game in the west Twin Cities metro Friday night as No. 4-ranked Wayzata hosts No. 8-ranked Maple Grove. The Trojans have recovered from going 3-7 last year and are off to a 4-0 start with wins over Blaine, Shakopee, Prior Lake and Minnetonka. They’re led by quarterback Jake Marsh’s 129 passing yards per game and eight touchdowns. Maple Grove is looking to bounce back after a tough 28-20 loss at Eden Prairie last week. The Crimson are led by quarterback Brad Davison’s 115 passing yards per game and three touchdowns. Isaac Collins is rushing for 137 yards per game with eight scores.
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.