2017 State Football Tournament
The Minnesota State High School League’s state football tournament begins a three-week run to the Prep Bowl championship games with quarterfinals in seven enrollment classes. Here is a look at the tournament:
Friday, Nov. 10
Spring Grove (11-0) vs. Verndale (11-0) at Buffalo High School, 7 p.m.
Cromwell-Wright (11-0) vs. Stephen-Argyle Central (10-1) at Bemidji State University, 5:30 p.m.
Russell-Tyler-Ruthton (9-2) vs. Mountain Lake (8-3) at New Ulm High School, 5 p.m.
Nevis (8-2) vs. North Woods (9-1) at Bemidji State University, 8 p.m.
A new champion will emerge after four-time defending champion Grand Meadow lost in the Section 1 semifinals to eventual section champion Spring Grove. Alex Folz has rushed for 1,082 yards this season for Spring Grove and teammate Cullen Patterson has added 1,076. Verndale, a two-time Nine-Man champion, returns to the state tournament for the first time since 2009. Cromwell-Wright, runner-up to Grand Meadow in 2016, has rushed for more than 3,200 yards this season. Nic Johnson leads the way with 1,349. Stephen-Argyle averages 385 yards of offense per game. Russell-Tyler-Ruthton is back in the tournament for the first time since 1990. Two seasons ago, R-T-R was 0-8. Mountain Lake returns for the third time since 2012. Many players that were on the North Woods basketball team that was runner-up in Class A last winter, are on the football team that is state-bound for the first time.
Saturday, Nov. 11
Goodhue (11-0) vs. Mayer Lutheran (10-1) at Shakopee High School, 3 p.m.
Minneota (11-0) vs. Mahnomen (10-1) at Alexandria Area High School, noon
Bethlehem Academy (7-3) vs. Wabasso (11-0) at New Ulm High School, 1 p.m.
Ada-Borup/Norman County West (11-0) vs. Braham (10-0) at Brainerd High School, noon
A new champion will emerge, here, too, because Minneapolis North Community now plays in Class AA. Wabasso, Braham and Mahnomen are the only three returners from the 2016 field. Goodhue’s Mason Huemann has rushed for 1,711 yards and 23 touchdowns for the Wildcats this season. Mayer Lutheran returns for the first time since 2012. Minneota’s Alex Pohlen has thrown for 2,023 yards and 29 touchdowns this season. Teammate Isaac Hennen has rushed for 1,249 yards and 18 TDs. Mahnomen’s Jon Starkey has gained nearly 1,700 yards and scored 29 touchdowns in leading the Indians to their eighth consecutive state tournament and 26th overall. Bethlehem Academy has held its opponents to a combined 978 yards rushing this season. BA is in the tournament for the fourth time in six seasons. Wabasso, which lost to eventual state champion Minneapolis North in 2016, averages 428.5 yards of offense per game. Wabasso’s first-team defense has surrendered just eight touchdowns this season. Braham’s Hunter Giffrow has thrown for 24 touchdowns and Ryan Roslin has rushed for 18. Ada-Borup, the Class A runner-up in 2001, is making its seventh state tournament appearance.
Friday, Nov. 10
Caledonia (10-0) vs. Minneapolis North Community (10-0) at Burnsville High School, 7 p.m.
Paynesville Area (8-2) vs. Barnesville (10-1) at Alexandria Area High School, 7 p.m.
Blue Earth Area (7-4) vs. Pipestone Area (10-1) at New Ulm High School, 7 p.m.
West Central Area (7-4) vs. Moose Lake/Willow River (6-5) at Brainerd High School, 7 p.m.
A dandy quarterfinal takes places when Caledonia meets Minneapolis North Community. Caledonia is the two-time defending Class AA champion and winners of eight championships overall. The Warriors average more than 400 yards of offense per game and surrender just 160. Minneapolis North won the Class A title in 2016. The Polars scored 44 unanswered points in their section final victory over Maple Lake. Paynesville Area is averaging 39.2 points per game this season. Barnesville’s Brady Tweeton, who has rushed for more than 3,200 career yards, missed the first five games of the season with a broken right foot, but has returned. Blue Earth’s Caelan Sanders has six interceptions this season. Pipestone’s Cody Thompson has thrown for 20 touchdowns this season. West Central Area returns for the first time since 1999 when it was the Class AA runner-up. Moose Lake/Willow River, a program filled with state tournament history, returns after a one-year hiatus.
Saturday, Nov. 11
Rochester Lourdes (9-2) vs. St. Croix Lutheran (10-0) at Prior Lake High School, noon
Mora (8-2) vs. Pequot Lakes (8-2) at Alexandria Area High School, 3 p.m.
Jordan (8-3) vs. Fairmont (9-1) at Prior Lake High School, 3 p.m.
Pierz (10-0) vs. Proctor (8-2) at Brainerd High School, 3 p.m.
An upper-bracket quarterfinal between Rochester Lourdes and St. Croix Lutheran is a rematch of last season’s Class AAA championship game that Rochester Lourdes won, 42-35. Eighteen of Lourdes’ 22 starters are underclassmen. Traditionally, St. Croix Lutheran has one of the most dynamic offenses in Minnesota prep football. This season is no different. The Crusaders average 450 yards of offense per game. Mora, making its first state tournament appearance since 2009, was the Class A champion in 1996. Jordan, the Class B champion in 1983, returns for the first time since 2012. Fairmont was the Class AAA runner-up in 2011. Pierz advanced to the Class AAA semifinals in 2016 before losing to St. Croix Lutheran. Proctor returns after a one-year hiatus and is in the state tournament for the ninth time overall.
Friday, Nov. 10
Winona (10-0) vs. Fridley (8-3) at Farmington High School, 7 p.m.
Academy of Holy Angels (9-1) vs. Rocori (10-0) at St. Cloud State University, 5 p.m.
Marshall (10-0) vs. South St. Paul (8-2) at Shakopee High School, 7 p.m.
Becker (7-4) vs. Cloquet (10-0) at St. Cloud State University, 8 p.m.
Winona is undefeated in its quest for another berth in the Class AAAA championship game. In 2016, the Winhawks lost to Benilde-St. Margaret’s in the title game. Fridley returns to the state tournament for a third consecutive season. Holy Angels was the Class AAAA runner-up in 2005 and 2013. Rocori advanced to the semifinals in 2016 before losing to Winona. Rocori has qualified for the football state tournament for the fourth consecutive season, a school-best in any activity. Marshall averages more than 471 yards of offense per game, most on the ground. Jefferson Lee has rushed for 1,619 yards and scored 31 touchdowns. South St. Paul, making its fifth consecutive state tournament appearance, averages nearly 390 yards of offense per game. A balanced running attack has produced 27 touchdowns. Becker, a three-time state champion, is averaging 45 points per game and surrendering just nine.
Friday, Nov. 10
Elk River (9-1) vs. Andover (8-2) at Mounds View High School, 7 p.m.
Saturday, Nov. 11
Owatonna (9-1) vs. Mahtomedi (9-1) at Lakeville North High School, 6 p.m.
St Louis Park (7-3) vs. Brainerd (8-2) at St. Cloud State, 6 p.m.
Mankato West (10-1) vs. Apple Valley (9-1) at Shakopee High School, 6 p.m.
Owatonna, the 2013 Class AAAAA champion in the final year of the Prep Bowl Era in the Metrodome, was a semifinalist in 2016 before losing to eventual champion, Elk River. Owatonna’s Jason Williamson has rushed for 1,710 yards and scored 25 touchdowns this season. Mahtomedi was the Class AAAA runner-up in 2002, 2005 and 2007. In 2016, the Zephyrs were eliminated in the quarterfinals. St. Louis Park is making its first state tournament since MSHSL postseason football began in 1972. Brainerd was the Class AAAAA runner-up in 2013. Mankato West’s Jack Foster has thrown for 20 touchdowns and run for 14. Apple Valley’s Kellan McKeag averages nearly six yards per carry. Elk River, which blazed its way to the Class AAAAA crown in 2016, is potent again a season later, averaging 461 yards of offense per game. Andover lost to Elk River 69-54 on Oct. 13. The Huskies pile up the offense, too, averaging 489 yards per game.
Thursday, Nov. 9
St. Michael-Albertville (9-1) vs. Maple Grove (7-3) at Park Center High School, 7 p.m.
Eden Prairie (10-0) vs. Lakeville North (7-3) at Chanhassen High School, 7 p.m.
Friday, Nov. 10
Prior Lake (7-3) vs. Minnetonka (9-1) at Osseo High School, 7 p.m.
Cretin-Derham Hall (7-2) vs. Edina (8-2) at White Bear Lake High School, 7 p.m.
This is the third season of the 32-team bracket in Minnesota’s largest class. Maple Grove lost in last year’s quarterfinals to Eden Prairie. Maple Grove has won three in a row since losing to Edina on Oct. 13. St. Michael-Albertville averages 353 yards of offense per game. Lakeville North lost to eventual champion Totino-Grace in last year’s quarterfinals. The Panthers’ stingy defense yields just 160 yards per game this season. Eden Prairie defeated Lakeville North 41-13 in Week 2 in a battle between the Nos. 1 and 2 ranked teams. Eden Prairie has been the team to beat all season in Class AAAAAA. Cole Kramer has led the Eagles with 15 touchdowns through the air and Antonio Montero has run for 17. Minnetonka, which lost in the quarterfinals in 2016, was the Class AAAAA champion in 2004. Prior Lake lost to Minnetonka 27-8 in Week 4. Prior Lake head coach Matt Gegenheimer will coach the U18 U.S. National Team at the 2018 International Bowl in January. Edina returns to the state tournament for the third time and first since 2012. Edina’s Brock Boltmann, who has committed to North Dakota, has 17 combined touchdowns this season. Cretin-Derham Hall is making its 24th state tournament, but first since 2011. The Raiders have won five in a row since falling to 2-2 in Week 4.