Carter Kopet, QB – Cleveland/Immanuel Lutheran (at Houston)
Kopet’s record for career passing touchdowns in Minnesota high school football keeps growing.
It stands at 177 entering Saturday’s section semifinal against the Hurricanes, 46 of which have been thrown this fall. Tuesday’s win over LeRoy-Ostrander was his third-straight game with five touchdowns and seventh in nine contests this season.
The combination of a stout Houston defense and a forecast ripe with cold and windy conditions presents a challenge for the fifth-year starter. The Hurricanes have not allowed more than 26 points to an opponent all season. They also possess a running game that can keep the ball away from the Clippers attack for minutes at a time, meaning Kopet and the passing game will need to be efficient to get the road victory.
Max Janes, TE/LB – Mounds View (vs Champlin Park)
The 6-foot-3, 230-pounder has been a playmaker on both sides of the ball the past two seasons for the Mustangs. He has caught 19 passes for 266 yards and three scores from his tight end position offensively as a senior, while also notching four sacks, three forced fumbles and two interceptions, including one for a touchdown.
He recently picked up a scholarship offer from Wyoming and he’ll need to use that Division-I talent against the Rebels. Champlin Park’s offense is averaging more than 200 yards rushing per game, with almost 25 points. Will Janes (NFN’s 40th-ranked player in the Class of 2018) and Mounds View be able to defend their home turf and advance?
Jonathan Mann, WR – Rosemount (vs East Ridge)
It’s been a strange season for Jeff Erdmann’s troops. The Irish’s offensive line was expected to control the line of scrimmage and produce big chunks of yards on the ground, but that hasn’t been the case in most games.
Rosemount’s offense has instead taken to the air, averaging 20 pass attempts and almost 160 yards per game. Mann was the main beneficiary of the offense’s switch, with 607 yards and seven touchdowns receiving in a breakout sophomore campaign.
Mann will likely be shadowed in the back end by East Ridge safety T.J. Kelly, who leads the team with two interceptions. Getting the run established early hasn’t been easy for the Irish, but if they can do it against the Raptors, it could lead to a big game from their super sophomore on Friday.
Eli Solberg, WR – Rogers (vs St. Cloud Tech)
The Royals — normally a ground-and-pound outfit – found a gem of a receiver in Solberg this season. The 6-foot, 185-pounder caught a school-record 50 passes for 966 yards with 10 touchdowns. He teamed with quarterback Cole Larson to lead Rogers to a 6-2 record and No. 2 seed in the arduous Section 6AAAAA playoffs.
Saturday’s game against the Tigers will be the toughest pass defense Solberg has faced this season. Tech boasts all seniors in the secondary, which is a big reason why no team has passed for more than 150 yards all season. The Tigers also figure to give standout receiver and NDSU commit James Kaczor opportunities to play more defense too this postseason, which could make for a marquee matchup against Solberg in Rogers.
Cade McMahon, RB/LB – Spring Lake Park (at Robbinsdale Cooper)
After losing almost every offensive and defensive starter, little was expected out of the Panthers in 2017, but Jeff Schlieff’s squad is riding a four-game winning streak entering the showdown with top-seeded Cooper.
McMahon was one of the few veterans expected to return for Spring Lake Park, but he didn’t play until the third game of the year. Since then he’s carried SLP, rushing for almost 1,200 yards and 16 touchdowns in only six games. Defensively, he has totaled 50 tackles and an interception in his third year at linebacker.
McMahon did not play in the Panthers’ 46-7 loss against the Hawks in September. Will the senior be enough for the Blue-and-White to upset Cooper and advance to their eighth-straight section final?