14 games remaining, all with one final goal in mind
by Malik Mitchell, Let’s Play Football Staff Writer
There are only two weeks remaining in the Minnesota high school football season. This week’s semifinals go from Thursday through Saturday, with the championship games taking place on November 24–25. Here is a preview for each game from around the state.
Kingsland vs Fertile-Beltrami
- These two teams have been dominating and putting up incredible stats every week. With an average of 292.0 yards per game, Kingsland has accumulated almost 3,500 rushing yards this season. Both teams have a 12-0 record. Kingsland just defeated Hills-Beaver Creek 26-14 in a tough quarterfinal match, while Fertile-Beltrami defeated Goodridge/Grygla-Gatzke 35-6. These two are set to kick off at 10:30 am on Nov. 16.
- Last week, 28–8, Ottertail Central defeated Cedar Mountain. The Bulldogs, who now have an 11-0 record, have been dominating opponents while playing strong defense. Nevis, who also has a 11-0 record, recently defeated Mountain Iron-Buhl 12-8. Nevis has put on high-scoring performances this season, including one in week one against Carlton/Wrenshall where they scored 77 points, while holding opponents to low scores. These two will square off at US Bank Stadium on Nov. 16 at 1pm.
- Springfield secured their 11th win of the season last week, defeating Mahnomen/Waubun 22–12 in a hard fought battle. Senior quarterback Jakob Nachreiner completed 16 throws for 123 yards and two touchdowns, leading the team’s 236 yards of total offense. An average of 252.2 passing yards and 151.6 rushing yards have been produced by this offense per game. It will be a more challenging game heading into this semifinals. The Mahnomen/Waubun Thunderbirds maintained their perfect record with an 18-0 victory over Parkers Prairie. The Thunderbirds have defeated opponents by huge scores in games they have won with the ground game. These two thrilling offenses will square off on Nov. 18 at 9 a.m.
- Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa breezed over Mayer Lutheran last week, 28–6. The Jaguars did their damage on the ground scoring two rushing touchdowns. A 91-yard touchdown run by senior Luke Dingmann to the end zone in the second quarter gave the team some momentum to end up with the win. With averaging 40 points each game, this is a highly high-scoring team. This week, they play an opponent that has a similar offensive philosophy. Minnesota has been dominating this season, as they typically do every season. The Vikings rushed for a total of 329 yards as a team in their 55-0 win over Braham last week. While junior Ryan Meagher ran 150 yards for two touchdowns, senior Ryan Dalager completed seven passes for 130 yards and two touchdowns. With a record of 12-0 they’ve held teams to an average 7.75 points while rushing over 3000 yards and 1500 passing yards on the season. This should be a huge matchup on Nov. 18 at 11:30am.
- Following their 41-0 victory over Caledonia last week, Jackson County Central has advanced to the semifinals once more. With a 12-0 record, the Huskies have regularly won games by big scoring margins. On top of that, the defense has demonstrated resilience by not letting a team score more than 14 points. In this round of the playoffs last year, Jackson County Central fought hard but unfortunately lost against Barnesville, the eventual State winners. Barnesville, who are 12-0 thus far this season, have carried over their success from their previous season. Six shutout wins have been recorded by Barnesville, with four of those coming in a row from weeks five to eight. This matchup should be an exciting contest on November 17th at 9am.
- With a 10-2 record, Cannon Falls has proven they are able to prevail even after suffering two losses. With their 51-6 victory over Triton last week, Cannon Falls moved one step closer to the Prep Bowl than they were the previous year. With two 70-point scoring efforts in Weeks 5 and 6, Cannon Falls has demonstrated their high scoring offense ability. They haven’t had any trouble scoring 30 points or more all season, with the exception of their two losses. On the other hand, Eden Valley-Watkins, who are 11-0 thus far this season, has also demonstrated their dominance. They came out the gate scoring 50 points or more in their first two matchups of the season. They’re coming off a flawless victory from last week beating Moose Lake/Willow River 60-0. They were defeated 27–12 by Chatfield in the semifinals of the previous season. On Nov. 17 at 11:30 a.m., we’ll find out who wins between these two.
- With a 12-0 record, Stewartville is enjoying similar success as they had the previous year. They’ve recorded six shutouts, including a 22-0 victory over Waseca last week. This team has the potential to be dominant with its potent offense and stout defense. Their offense has gained over 4,000 yards while giving up just 56 points in the regular season. With just one setback in their season opener, Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton has gone on to win 10 straight games. They overcame an ineffective start to upset Albany 33-6 last week. They are not as productive as Stewartville, but they do the job and keep opponents to a minimal amount of points. The game is scheduled for November 18 at 2:00 PM.
- Dassel-Cokato, who is now 10-1, defeated Minneapolis North 14-7 last week. Even though they have a few close victories, this team is capable of coming out on top in difficult situations. As we approach the semifinals, the game will become more difficult. Annandale defeated Esko 14–7 last week to record their 11th victory. Annadale has put on a number of high-scoring games, including one in week five when they scored 61 points. The game is scheduled on November 18 at 4:30.
- Byron won their ninth game after defeating Hill-Murray 31–28 in a tough game the previous week. In their last three meetings, Byron has seen close games despite having a dominant start to the season. Last season, they suffered a devastating loss to Stewartville in the semifinals and they will have another tough matchup this time around. I believe they have what it takes to produce a different result this season. Rocori on the other hand is 9-2 on the season and is also coming off a close win against Orono 28-27. Junior Anthony Rodriguez, who ran for 111 yards and one touchdown, assisted Rocori in their win. Rocori is a balanced team who can challenge Byron. They are scheduled to perform at 4 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 16.
- Hutchinson is currently 9-2 and have been steamrolling past teams for several weeks. They defeated Totino-Grace 44–12 last week, displaying remarkable ground game dominance as they racked up 407 running yards. Junior Nathan Thode, who ran for 244 yards and four touchdowns, and Carter Verhasselt, who ran for 115 yards and one touchdown, were the main players on the ground. Hutchinson has been dominant on the ground gathering over 2,500 rushing yards so far this season that will be a problem for North Branch Area. North Branch has overcome two close matchups in the last two weeks. They defeated Benilde-St. Margaret’s 38–27 after a difficult first half. Hutchinson’s potent run-heavy offense will test North Branch’s defensive composure. This matchup is set for Nov. 17 at 4:30pm.
- After a tough season opener, St. Thomas Academy has been having a good season achieving a 9-2 record. So far this season, the Cadets have scored at least 28 points a game. They defeated Owatonna 46-28 in a high-scoring match up last week. Savion Hart, a senior, gained 271 yards on 28 carries and five touchdowns. With more than 3,000 rushing yards on the season, St. Thomas Academy will likely try to exploit the ground game. Following a 38-14 victory over Rogers, Alexandria maintains their perfect 11-0 record. They have a strong defense to go along with their reliable offense. This should be an exciting matchup on Friday, Nov. 17 at 2pm.
- With a current record of 11-0, Chanhassen is an entertaining team to watch as they make good use of both the ground and the air. The Storm defeated Mahtomedi last week, 28–22, after a hard matchup. Maxwell Woods ran for 101 yards and one score on the ground, while Brayden Windschitl added 13 passes for 133 yards and one touchdown in the air. This week, they play an opponent that has a similar attacking mentality. Andover defeated Armstrong 37–20 last week to record their tenth victory. They’ve put on several scoring spectacles, scoring 84 points in week 9 against Cambridge-Isanti. We’ll see how these two stack up against one another on Saturday, Nov. 18 at 7 p.m.
Centennial vs Lakeville South
- Centennial has had an impressive season going 10-1 overcoming some tough teams. They’ve been a difficult task for teams to stop when it comes to their smashmouth offense. One player that has been a problem for teams is senior Maverick Harper who currently has over 1,200 rushing yards. Last week the Cougars beat Rosemount 24-0 in which Harper rushed for 107 yards. Already surpassing 3,000 rushing yards, I see their offense continue this method. Lakeville South, also holding a record of 10-1, has a similar scheme. Lakeville South rushed for 257 yards as a team in their close 35-34 win over East Ridge last week. Junior Connor Cade was the point man as he rushed for 157 yards and two touchdowns. Cade also has over 1,200 yards rushing on the season so Lakeville will look for him to contribute in this matchup on Nov. 16 at 7pm.
Eden Prairie vs Edina
- The Eden Prairie Eagles have been having a dominant season holding a record of 11-0 averaging 287.2 rushing yards per game. They beat Lakeville North 21-3 last week after putting in a lot of work on the ground, totaling 247 rushing yards. With more than 3,000 running yards this season, the Eagles’ use of the ground is nothing new. Their use of multiple rushing backs makes it difficult to contain their offensive. Edina’s difficult schedule has caused them to lose three straight games in weeks 2-4. However, with more than 2,000 passing yards and 1,700 rushing yards, the Hornets possess a potent offense. Their defense will be the deciding factor on whether they overcome this matchup that will take place on Nov. 17 at 7:30pm.