It’s another huge week in high school football as after Friday night’s action, there are just two weeks left in the regular season. That means the focus for many teams has shifted to the playoffs.
The primary focus is still the Friday night opponent every week, but teams are now looking at where they might be headed for the postseason. Can you get at least one home game in the most meaningful part of the season? Is a run to the state tournament, and even more, possible?
There is a lot on the line over the next three weeks as teams jockey for playoff positioning. It’s even better when two good teams meet with everything on the line. That’s what high school football is all about.
There are several great match-ups this week, but we can only choose four. I couldn’t narrow it down and have provided a fifth as a huge Friday night in prep football is ahead. Here are this week’s big games.
Mankato West (5-0) at Red Wing (4-1)
There is a huge match-up in southeastern Minnesota Friday night between two programs who couldn’t have a more different history as Red Wing hosts Mankato West, the No. 1-ranked team in Class 5A. The Scarlets are the defending state champions, and the Wingers are turning their program around under coach Rickey Foggie. It’s our featured game for WCCO-TV’s High School Sports Rally.
Mankato West has never had a problem scoring in its high-octane, spread offense featuring big play receivers. The Scarlets, who have won 10 straight games dating back to last year, are averaging 37 points per game this season and have scored more than 40 in their past two victories. Quarterback Zach Annexstad is averaging about 122 passing yards per game with four passing touchdowns. But it’s Mankato West’s run game that’s taking over this year. They are rushing for nearly 212 yards per game on the season, and the Scarlets are led by Van Neils’s 122 yards per game and 10 touchdowns on the season. The quarterback’s brother, Brock Annexstad, is his favorite target and leading receiver with 28 catches on the season with three touchdowns.
Red Wing is a great story in high school football. The Wingers went 0-9 just two seasons ago and in Foggie’s first season as head coach last year, they finished 3-7. They also won a playoff game last year before losing to Stewartville in the sections semifinals. Red Wing is 4-1 this year with wins over Northfield, Faribault, Rochester Century and last week over New Prague. The Wingers are led by quarterback Tait Kelly, who is passing for 244 yards per game and has 14 touchdowns on the season. He’s also their second-leading rusher. Their top running back, Samuel Hanson, averages about 78 yards per game and has five scores on the season.
Red Wing’s best chance for a victory might be its offense sustaining long drives and keeping the Mankato west offense standing on the sidelines. When the two teams met last year, Mankato West claimed a 51-20 victory. It’s a huge opportunity for the Wingers to claim an upset against a No. 1-ranekd team on their home field.
Elk River (4-1) at Rogers (4-1)
There’s a big game between a pair of old rivals in the northwest Twin Cities metro Friday night as Rogers hosts Elk River. It’s a battle of 4-1 teams that are both looking for momentum heading into the playoffs. The Royals have won two straight games against Buffalo and St. Francis after suffering their only loss to rival St. Michael-Albertville. Elk River started the season with wins over Brainerd, Chisago Lakes and Cambridge-Isanti before suffering its first loss, also to St. Michael-Albertville. The Elks bounced back last week with a 67-29 win over Buffalo. Friday’s winner pretty much guarantees themselves at least one home playoff game.
Armstrong (4-1) at Spring Lake Park (5-0)
One of the biggest games of Friday night’s prep action is in the north Twin Cities metro as unbeaten Spring Lake Park, the No. 2-ranked team in Class 5A, hosts an Armstrong squad that has just one loss on the season. The Panthers are led by the rushing duo of Zachary Ojile and Isley Carrington. Ojile, the team’s quarterback, is rushing for 145 yards per game with 12 touchdowns on the season. Carrington is averaging about 127 yards per game and has seven touchdowns. The Falcons are led by quarterback Collis Barber, who is throwing for 133 yards per game with nine touchdowns. Linebacker and Gophers commit Thomas Barber leads the defense with 39 tackles on the season.
Chaska (4-1) at Chanhassen (1-4)
Rival programs in the west Twin Cities metro that are headed in opposite directions meet Friday night as Chanhassen hosts Chaska. The Hawks have won four straight games since losing their opener to Spring Lake Park. Over the four-game win streak, they’ve outscored opponents by a combined 149-13 and it includes shutouts over Richfield and Holy Angels. The Storm has had a rough fall, with its only win in Week 3, 26-23 over Waconia. They’ve since lost to Richfield and Orono, and are in desperate need of some momentum heading into the postseason.
Extra: Delano (3-2) at Glencoe-Silver Lake (5-0)
Glencoe-Silver Lake, undefeated and ranked No. 2 in Class 3A, should get a great test Friday night as the Panthers host Delano in a big game. Since beating Hutchinson 6-0 in Week 2, the Panthers have scored at least 30 points in three straight games. They also shut out Watertown-Mayer 33-0 last week. Delano comes in having won three of its last four games, including a 27-0 shutout of Annandale last week. In those three wins, the Tigers have outscored opponents by a combined 93-23.
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.