We'll have at least 4 new champs as stage is set for Prep Bowl


The Prep Bowl returns to TCF Bank Stadium this weekend for championship football games featuring Minnesota's best teams.

Grand Meadow is aiming for a three-peat in 9-Man while Becker in 4A and Minneota in 1A are back to defend 2014 titles.

Check out the brackets right here.

6A: Osseo vs. East Ridge

We'll have a new champion in the biggest class as Eden Prairie's four-year run of dominance ended at the hands of Totino-Grace, which lost to Osseo in the state semifinals. East Ridge jumped out to an early lead against Maple Grove before rallying from behind to win in a great game Friday night.

East Ridge's ride started with the resignation of coach Mike Pendino and a loss in the first game of the season, but they've been perfect ever since under new coach Andy Fritze.

5A: St. Thomas Academy vs. St. Michael-Albertville

Saturday's finale will mark the final game of the season in the state, and for St. Thomas Academy, it could be the school's first state championship 40 years to the day of their only title. The key will be slowing down 6-foot-4 STMA receiver Isaiah Weston, who torched Mankato West in the state semifinals with 6 catches for 184 yards and a 94-yard kickoff return for a touchdown, according to MN Football Hub.

4A: Becker vs. South St. Paul

The Becker Bulldogs are back in the title game riding a 24-game win streak that dates back to Week 2 of last season. South St. Paul will have its hands full against the reigning champs as emotions are on high for the school's first trip to the championship game.

"This is awesome, but there's one more feeling that would feel a little better," South St. Paul coach Chad Sexauer told the Pioneer Press following their 19-14 win over Rocori in the semifinals.

3A: Pierz vs. Jackson County Central

Pierz has a big task ahead in slowing down JCC's talented running dueo of Keegan Moore and Avery Henderson. They have combined for 664 yards and 8 touchdowns through the first two rounds of the state tournament, the Worthington Daily Globe notes. The paper notes that JCC will face a pair of tough running backs at Pierz, too.

2A: Caledonia vs. Pipestone

Caledonia is back in the title game in search of its sixth title in the last nine years. They're 50-5 in the playoffs since 2005, the Post Bulletin says. Pipestone is trying to win a title for the first time in more than 30 years, the Daily Globe adds.

1A: Minneapolis North vs. Minneota

North will play for the first championship in school history led by Golden Gopher quarterback recruit Tyler Johnson, who torched Braham for three first-half touchdowns in the semifinals. Garrett Hennen, a 220-pound running back, has helped lead Minneota back to the Prep Bowl. The Vikings are riding a 26-game win streak and are 39-1 since 2013 – the only loss coming to Chatfield in the 2013 Prep Bowl.

"It would mean a lot to make school history," Johnson said, according to The Hub. "But also, we have one week of practice, no matter what. One more week with this group of people, and we are going to finish strong together."

9-Man: Grand Meadow vs. Underwood

The Superlarks of Grand Meadow are No. 1 in the state and the two-time defending 9-Man champs. This is their fourth straight trip to the Prep Bowl.

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