The Minnesota high school football state tournament brackets will be set following section final games being played Friday and Saturday. Take a look at BMTN and KFAN's Joe Nelson's preview of some the best games.
Class 6A - Round of 16
Once the state tournament teams are known, the top five will be seeded. The opponents will be decided by a random draw. Here's a look at the match-ups.
Edina vs. Blaine
The Hornets are the No. 1-seed out of section six. The Bengals are the 5-seed from section five, and they knocked off a 21-0 win over Brainerd in the first-round. Edina will be very difficult to beat, and I don't expect them to fall short in this game.
Wayzata vs. Champlin Park
The Trojans have ended Champlin's season five years in a row. That's incredible. Here's what I do know -- The Rebels are very good this year, and they know what to expect Friday night. They jumped in front of Wayzata last year in this game before losing 21-14. On top of that, I think Wayzata is very similar to Maple Grove, and Champlin played horribly in a 17-12 loss to the Crimson two weeks ago. I expect this to be a very close game.
Osseo vs. Eden Prairie
After losing two in a row the EP Eagles bounced back with a dominant win over an undermanned Minneapolis South team. It was a confidence boost, but Osseo can be as good as any team in the state. Watch out for Bridge Tusler -- the Osseo RB/DB is a game-changer. I think Eden Prairie will still be strong enough to win.
Maple Grove vs. Minnetonka
The Crimson are undefeated -- technically -- but they did lose a game to Osseo, which has since been overturned because the Orioles had an ineligible player. 'Tonka is a good team but fell victim to the state's best conference. I think this will be a tight game, and I'm leaning towards the Skippers pulling the upset.
Stillwater vs. Rosemount
The Ponies are undefeated and claimed the Suburban East Conference title this year. I think that conference was a little bit down this year, but the Ponies haven't been very healthy this year. Despite that, they've won. I like them to win this by 10 or more.
Mounds View vs. Eastview
The Mustangs' only loss was to Stillwater. They led 14-0 at the half in that game before losing their QB to injury. That QB -- Mitch Fredrickson -- is now healthy. Mounds View should roll into the state tourney.
Lakeville North vs. Roseville
The Panthers are good enough to win this one in blowout fasion, but Roseville has played teams tough this year. They were blown out in just one of five losses, and they're coming off a confidence-boosting victory over White Bear Lake.
Prior Lake vs. Woodbury
Woodbury running back Quran Al-Hameed is a game-changer. The Royals were 2-1 in its first three games with Al-Hameed. Then Al-Hameed got hurt and the Royals lost four of five, including a blowout loss to Cretin-Derham Hall. Al-Hameed returned last week and led Woodbury to a 21-14 upset win over CDH. For the record, the only game Woodbury has lost with Al-Hameed was in week one -- a 20-18 loss to undefeated Stillwater.
Class 5A - Section Finals
Once the state tournament teams are known, the following section winners will meet in the state quarterfinal round. 1 vs. 2, 3 vs. 4, 5 vs. 6 and 7 vs. 8.
Moorhead vs. Sartell-St. Stephen
The top two seeds from section 8 meet at St. John's University Friday night. Moorhead has throttled teams all season while Sartell has put up an impressive 7-2 record. Sartell will have a bit of a home advantage being so close to St. John's, and I believe they will win the game.
Chisago Lakes vs. Bemidji
Bemidji lost in the Prep Bowl last year, but that was with three-year starting QB Mitchell Hendricks. He has since graduated. Chisago is searching for it's second trip to state in school history. They made it in 2001, and I believe running back Josh Parks will lead them back this year.
Elk River vs. St. Michael-Albertville
I have a feeling Elk River is going to win this game handily. No disrespect to STMA, but the Elks are on a roll. Evidence of how good this team is can be found in its earlier season loss to 6A power Maple Grove -- a game that saw a final score of 28-25. That's very close. Elk River is a 5-seed that has scored 50+ points in two straight playoff games.
St. Thomas Academy vs. East Ridge
I think whichever team wins this game has a great shot to advance to the state title game. East Ridge starts a freshman QB and they have a supremely athletic, 300 pound defensive tackle. I expect a tight game -- one that might come down to a last-second kick. If that's the case, there isn't a better kicker in the state than STA's Wyatt Schmidt.
Totino-Grace vs. Spring Lake Park
What a great matchup out of the state's toughest section (4). Totino is the No. 1 team in 5A and the Panthers are ranked second. Spring Lake Park lost a close game at T-G last year, but head coach Jeff Schlieff thinks this is the best team he's had in a long time. T-G has, in a way, surprised itself with an undefeated record against high-level 5A and 6A teams. It would be a pleasant surprise to see Spring Lake Park upset the perennial power.
Apple Valley vs. Farmington
The top two seeds in section three present an intriguing game. The Eagles from Apple Valley are 7-2, but could easily be undefeated. I think they win, and could potentially go deep in the state tournament.
Chanhassen vs. Mankato West
First of all, congratulations to Chanhassen on an incredible season. Both of these teams have had some ups and downs, so it's hard to predict a winner. Mankato West has the reputation of making it the state tournament, so despite being a lower seed in section two, I think most people look at them as the favorite.
Owatonna vs. Rochester Mayo
Being located in the Twin Cities, I don't get a chance to hear a lot about teams from the Big 9 Conference. I have, however, talked with Owatonna head coach Jeff Williams. His team has a talented/big offensive and defensive line. They have talent at the skill positions. The Huskies had a game this season against Faribault in which they trailed 41-7 at the half ... and came back to win 44-41. Plus, they handled Mayo 28-7 a few weeks ago. Owatonna has a legitimate shot to go deep this year.
Class 4A - Section Finals
Once the state tournament teams are known, the following section winners will meet in the state quarterfinal round.
1 vs. 2, 3 vs. 4, 5 vs. 6 and 7 vs. 8.
Detroit Lakes vs. Rocori
I would be lying to you if I told you I knew a lot about either of these teams. What I can tell you is that Rocori is the defending state champ, and experience is paramount this time of year. Plus, the Spartans are 5-1 with QB Mac Mueller, who is nearly 100-percent healthy following a midseason arm injury. The Lakers are undefeated under longtime head coach Flint Moschenbacher.
Hermantown vs. Princeton
This looks like a close game in the making between two teams that probably don't know a whole lot about eachother. The only common opponent between the two is Cloquet. Hermantown beat them 28-14 and Princeton beat them in overtime last week.
DeLaSalle vs. Robbinsdale Cooper
Islanders head coach Sean McMenomy told me some refreshing news last week. He said star QB Reid Travis -- a junior -- has no intention of switching to a one sport athlete. Travis is a 6-foot-8 stud baskeball player with a bunch of Division I schools drooling over him. Instead, Travis views football as another great sport, and a break from the constant grind of trying to focus on one sport. Anyway, Cooper has a great offense and this should be a high-scoring affair.
Becker vs. Delano
This should be a really close game. Delano is a strong 7-3 team, with its losses coming to talented teams from Annandale, Hutchinson and Holy Family Catholic -- all of whom could end up in the state tournament. Becker is led by four-year starting QB Tommy Benson. The kid isn't very big, but he can throw the ball. He's worth the price of admission.
South St. Paul vs. Hill-Murray
Zach LaValle, the QB from Hill-Murry is out with an injury. That's bad news for the Pioneers, but head coach Mark Mauer will have his team ready to roll with a great gameplan -- which they completely change for every opponent. That makes it difficult to prepare for the Pioneers. South St. Paul is strong, and if they win the time of possession battle they'll probably win the game.
Holy Angels vs. Holy Family Catholic
Holy cow. Yes. I'm lame like that, but I couldn't resist the opportunity to start this preview with a pathetic joke. Regardless, this is a game between two balanced teams that match up well against eachother.
Hutchinson vs. Glencoe-Silver Lake
This is the test of the year for GSL. Hutch pounded the Panthers during the regular season. Remember how I metioned Delano and Holy Family Catholic as strong teams? Well, Hutch pounded both of them by a combined score of 96-19. Hutch is probably headed to the state tournament.
Faribault vs. Kasson-Mantorville
This is the biggest test of the season for the KoMets, who made the jump from 3A to 4A this season. Faribault is a pretty heavy favorite in this one.