Forty-eight teams are still playing high school football in Minnesota, with eight teams in each of six classes taking the field for state quarterfinal games Thursday through Saturday.
There is one game Thursday: Rocori vs. Rogers in a 7 p.m. Class 4A contest at St. Cloud State University. Sixteen quarterfinals will be played Friday and the round will be completed with seven games on Saturday.
Twenty-two of the 24 quarterfinal games will be played outdoors, with two taking place inside the Metrodome on Friday. Those games are both in 5A, between Lakeville North and Cretin-Derham Hall at 5 p.m. and Totino-Grace and Prior Lake at 8 p.m. After witnessing 17 outdoor football games this season, I’ll be at that indoor doubleheader on Friday.
This weekend’s winners will gather at the Metrodome for the state semifinals Nov. 18-19, and the Prep Bowl games will be held Nov. 25-26.
Here are some facts, figures and tidbits to prepare us for this weekend’s games…
--Cretin-Derham Hall (10-0) vs. Lakeville North (10-0) in 5A
--Plainview-Elgin-Millville (11-0) vs. St. Croix Lutheran (11-0) in 3A
Other Unbeaten Teams:
--Wayzata (10-0) in 5A
--Bemidji (10-0) and Mankato West (10-0) in 4A
--Moose Lake/Willow River (11-0) and Waterville-Elysian-Morristown (10-0) in 2A
--Mahnomen (11-0) and Dawson-Boyd (11-0) in 1A
--Edgerton-Ellsworth (11-0) and Spring Grove (11-0) in Nine-Man
No. 1 vs. No. 2 matchups:
--No. 1 St. Croix Lutheran vs. No. 2 Plainview-Elgin-Millville in 3A
Other matchups of Top 5 teams:
--No. 2 Cretin-Derham Hall vs. No. 3 Lakeville North in 5A
--No. 2 Mahnomen vs. No. 5 Braham in 1A
Matchups of unranked teams:
--Annandale vs. Greenway/Nashwauk-Keewatin in 3A
--Providence Academy vs. Perham in 3A
--Paynesville vs. Warroad in 2A
Notes from individual teams (information supplied by the schools)…
This is the Cougars’ fourth Section 6 championship in a row. The seniors have gone 40-7 in four years of varsity football. Lance Ruebke has nearly 1,500 all-purpose yards as a sophomore, Ian Halle has 18 touchdowns and Jace Hennen has thrown for 1,173 yards and 15 TDs in nine games. The team GPA is 3.2.
After an 0-4 start the Cardinals have won six of their last seven games. They played five 4A schools. Joe Allison is the grandson of former Twins player Bob Allison.
Strong offensive line play has allowed four runners to amass more than 3,500 yards rushing. Josh Werness has over 1,300 yards, Ryan Rand has 1,200 rushing/receiving yards, DJay Johnson has over 1,000 rushing and return yards.
Blue Earth (2A)
The Buccaneers average 291 rushing yards a game and their opponents average 77 rushing yards. Jacob Olson is a 1,226-yard rusher, Carter Hanson has run for 835 yards, Brady Anderson has passed for 1,105 yards. Lineman Jonah Pirsig has made a verbal commitment to the University of Minnesota
Cretin-Derham Hall (5A)
The Raiders lost 16 starters from the 2010 team. This year’s team held its opponents to 80 total points in 10 games.
This is the first Dawson-Boyd team to make the state football tournament. Nathaniel Huot and Evan Robertson combine for 13 interceptions and Justin Lee and Brandon Schmitt combine for 14 sacks.
Four rushers have gone over 500 yards. The seniors have a career record of 39-5. Johnny Menning has set a single-season sack record with 21. The team has a record of 78-13 since 2004.
The Cardinals went undefeated in the conference for the fourth straight year; they have won 20 straight conference games. Senior QB Ben Kain is completing 60.8 percent of his passes and has 22 touchdowns. Junior running back Brandon Martin has 19 touchdowns. The offensive line has given up only six sacks in 11 games. Coach Mat Mahoney was a junior quarterback at Fairmont the last time the Cardinals went to state (1997).
Holy Family Catholic (3A)
The Fire is making its third trip to state in five years.
Kittson County Central (Nine-Man)
This is the first time in the coop's existence (since 2007) that the team has won the conference and the section title in the same season. Zach Rynning has broken the school record for passing yards and TD passes in a single season. Derek Coffied has broken the school record for receptions, receiving yards and receiving TDs in a single season.
Lakeville North (5A)
The Panthers have given up only three points in the third quarter and have outscored their opponents 91-3 in that quarter. The 10-0 start is the best in the history of Lakeville North. Trey Heid is the QB, kicker and punter. Charlie Hayes and Joel Oxton have 95 catches combined. Karl Finkel leads the Panthers with 11 sacks, Mitch Johnson has nine sacks. Heid has rushed and passed for 2,424 total yards.
Mankato West (4A)
The Scarlets are 44-3 over the last four seasons. QB Philip Nelson has committed to the University of Minnesota.
Moose Lake/Willow River (2A)
Opponents have 28 turnovers to MLWR's four this season. They have a 46-game regular-season winning streak and this is the sixth consecutive trip to the state tournament.
The seniors have a career record of 33-11 and they have played in four section title games. The Raiders have a turnover ratio of plus-12. WR Jamie Fischer owns almost all school receiving records. QB Sean Murphy owns the school career TD pass record with 58 and career record for being involved in 89 TDs. Team GPA is 3.40 and all juniors and seniors are three-sport athletes.
The starting defense has only allowed 44 points. The team turnover ratio is plus-28. Three individual rushers have career totals of more than 1,500 yards: Garret Wolf, Aaron Grobe and Jack Ihrke. QB Brady Rahman has thrown 18 TDs with only 2 INTs. The team consists mainly of two- and three-sport athletes, including several who have state tournament experience in wrestling, basketball and track and field
Prior Lake (5A)
This is the Lakers’ first appearance in the state football tournament. Jack Kaiser has rushed for 1,127 yards and Jack Johnson has rushed for 762 yards.
The Spartans have a plus-16 turnover margin. Christian Pedroza has tied the school record twice this year by kicking two 47-yard field goals. Alex Tray and Cory Asfeld are battling to set the school record for tackles for loss; Alex has 20, Cory has 18. Pedroza has kicked 20 touchbacks on kickoffs this season. The team has an overall GPA of 3.14. This is the fifth time the Rocori football team has been a state entrant in football.
WAO's defense has five shutouts. There are only four seniors on this year's roster of 44. Zach Riopelle (a North Dakota State football commit) is the school’s all-time leading rusher with over 4,000 yards. Andrew Lansing was part of the Thief River Falls state tournament hockey team that took third place in the 2011 Class A state tournament. WAO has played in the Section 8A championship game five of the last six years. This is WAO's first state football appearance since 2000, when the Ponies took second place. WAO has averaged at least seven wins over the past four seasons.
The team’s four-year record is 43-3. Jeff Amundson leads the state during his career in tackles for loss (63) and Grant Pope is in the top five with 44.5. Two freshmen play a significant amount of time: Ben Boran (LB and kicker) and Nick Amundson (OT).