Posted On: 08/24/17 5:00 AM

Of the four best teams in the North subdistrict, only Nevis cracked the preseason top five. The Tigers return almost all of their starters, including Jack DeWulf, from last season's 10-1 team, except for star receiver/defensive back Griffin Chase. All eight games on the Tigers’ schedule are against teams from the West, which begs the question why they’re even in this grouping in the first place.

Closer to the Iron Range, Ely and Cromwell should battle it out for supremacy. The Timberwolves and Cardinals met in the 9-Man State Tournament last season, which was a 35-7 Cromwell victory.

Both teams lost their best player (Ely - Josh Heiman, Cromwell - Zion Smith) from 2016, but have enough returners and solid traditions to be considered the favorites. Quarterback Carter Geulke paces Ely, while receiver Nick Johnson is a big-time playmaker for Cromwell.

Another contender is North Woods. The Grizzlies only lost twice in 2016, both coming at the hands of Ely. They return quarterback Tate Olson and leading rusher Brendan Parson.

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