With the start of the 2017 prep football season just around the corner, Northstar Football News is breaking down the biggest games in each class each week. We will start with the biggest schools and work our way down.
Week One: Barnesville v. Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton
In one of the closest games it played last season, Barnesville rode a fourth-quarter comeback effort to secure a 22-21 victory over Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton last season. With stud running back Brady Tweeton out for this game, Brady Martz will look to carry the load in the backfield, while quarterback Caleb Stetz will try to get the air attack going to lift the Trojans. Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton, however, will look to lean on junior receiver Bryce Anderson to lead the offense.
Week Two: Zumbrota-Mazeppa v. Caledonia
Caledonia cruised to a 14-0 record last season en route to the Class 2A state title. In order to advance to state, Caledonia had to take on Zumbrota-Mazeppa in the Section 1AA title game. Quarterback Owen King returns to once again lead the Caledonia offense, and he has the benefit of having top receiver Andrew Goergen, who racked up 201 receiving yards and two touchdowns on 11 catches in last season’s section title game matchup, back by his side.
Week Three: Pillager v. Ottertail Central
Pillager will play an important early-season matchup against a section rival in Ottertail Central in week three of the prep season. The two teams squared off in the Section 6AA title game, where Pillager came out and earned a 29-6 victory to advance to state. With 14 starters back, including quarterback Joshua Doss, Pillager will look for another big win in this contest.
Week Four: Eden Valley-Watkins v. Rockford
Eden Valley-Watkins will celebrate the halfway point in the prep football season with a matchup against Rockford, a team it beat 21-14 in week three last season. The athletic trio of Matt Schindler, Jamison Kuechle and Justin Streit will look to carry the Eagles again in this contest. With Streit having picked up 3.5 sacks in the last contest, Rockford will, without a doubt, be searching for a way to keep the Eagle defense in check.
Week Five: Eden Valley-Watkins v. Pierz
Eden Valley-Watkins lost just two games last season, with the first loss coming at the hands of Pierz in week four. Pierz, Northstar Football News’ top-ranked team in Class 3A, returns three offensive lineman and All-District quarterback Preston Rocheleau, but, with the Pioneers’ running game an early question mark due to a lack of returning running backs, Eden Valley-Watkins will look to use its explosive defense to contain Pierz in this contest.
Week Six: Brooklyn Center v. Minneapolis North
Minneapolis North was able to get the best of this matchup last season, as the Polars picked up a 38-0 victory, but the circumstances surrounding both teams are much different this time around. Brooklyn Center is led by new head coach John Licciardi, who came over from the Osseo staff, and he has plenty of weapons at his disposal with quarterback Dayvia Gbor, wide receiver Charles Wylie and running back/defensive end Brandyn Johnson. North, on the other hand, returns two-way lineman Odell Wilson, who will surely have an impact, as well as running back Kehyan Porter. With a strong defense at its disposal, North holds the advantage in this contest, but the game should be interesting nonetheless.
Week Seven: Hawley v. Barnesville
Barnesville picked up two key victories over Hawley last season, including one in the Section 8AA title game. With sophomore Hunter Zenzen and junior Preston Snobi set to lead the Trojan defense to a big performance, Barnesville will look to secure another win over a section opponent. Barnesville is expected to get Tweeton back in time for this contest, which gives the Trojans yet another advantage over Hawley in this one.
Week Eight: Pillager v. Staples-Motley
Pillager scored 40-plus points in seven of its 11 regular season and section games last season, and its final 40-point performance came against Staples-Motley in the Section 6AA semifinal game. With seven starters back on offense, including running back Eli Horn, expect more offensive fireworks from the Huskies.