RB Jason Williamson – Owatonna (vs Northfield)
One would believe the Huskies senior running back wants to make a statement against Northfield this season. The Raiders dealt his team its only loss in last year’s state championship campaign, a 21-17 setback in Northfield where Williamson was held to just 102 yards on 33 carries.
Williamson has torched opponents for more than 1,100 yards and 15 touchdowns already this season – a pace that’s slightly ahead of last year’s stats. He’s already Owatonna’s all-time leading rusher with more than 4,400 yards and all-time leading scorer with 71 total touchdowns in his career. He’ll look to add to those marks against a Northfield defense that’s allowing fewer than 14 points per game on its five-game winning streak.
RB Brian Curtis Jr. – Lakeville North (vs Prior Lake at TCO)
The Panthers senior has been the epitome of a workhorse for the No. 1 team in Class AAAAAA. He’s carried the ball almost 25 times per game for more than 1,100 yards, eclipsing the century mark in all six of North’s games.
Last week was his best performance of his career as the 185-pounder gained 293 yards and five touchdowns in the win at Maple Grove. He was held to only 77 yards last year against the Lakers, but did have a 4.5 yards/carry average in the loss. Can the Curtis and the Panthers get their first win over Prior Lake since 2012?
QB Rook Rowe – Holy Angels (vs Waconia)
The Stars lost almost their entire offense to graduation, including three-year starting quarterback Joe Heimbold, but instead of a rebuilding year, the Class AAAA defending champs are seeking a repeat.
Rowe’s play at quarterback has been a big part of the success. His move from running back has been almost seamless, as Holy Angels has scored 21 or more points in all six victories. Rowe has thrown for 643 yards and seven touchdowns, while also rushing for 339 yards and three scores. Friday against Waconia will be his toughest challenge of the season. The Wildcats have held opponents scoreless in 11-straight quarterback, earning back-to-back shutouts against Orono and Chaska.
QB Jacob Vetter – Hawley (vs Barnesville)
Vetter’s eased into the offense after returning from his knee injury in Week 3, but has seven total touchdowns (six pass, one rush) the past two weeks. With Section 8AA seeding and the White subdistrict title on the line, the senior won’t hold anything back against the Trojans.
Vetter suffered that knee injury in Hawley’s 29-22 loss to Barnesville in the 2017 section final. The injury and the loss have been on his mind ever since, as the Nuggets quarterback told WDAY-TV, “Every time I was in therapy and in the weight room I was thinking about that game you know and coming back stronger.”
RB/LB Logan Wendt – St. Charles (at Chatfield)
With an undefeated 6-0 record, the Saints are assured of their best season in nearly two decades. Wendt, a 190-pound junior has been the catalyst on both sides of the ball.
He’s rushed for more than 650 yards and 11 touchdowns, pacing an run-heavy offense that’s thrown for less than 270 yards through the first six contests.
Wendt’s also been one of the leading tacklers on Matt Reinhardt’s defense, which is allowing just 12.5 points per game. The No. 6 (AA) Saints should be tested by Chatfield on Friday, as the Gophers only loss of the season came in Week 5 against top-ranked Caledonia.Owatonna running back Jason Williamson looks to help the Huskies get some revenge on Northfield after last year’s loss. (Andrew Link/Rochester Post-Bulletin)
Lakeville North OL vs Prior Lake DL
The Panthers o-line has been the best in Minnesota this fall. Led by NFN No. 2 in 2019 Bryce Benhart, North’s rolled up almost seven yards per carry and 22 rushing touchdowns on opponents. Center Jack Hansen is also one of the top players at his position in the state, while Joe Jaeger and Mason Malecha have rounded into form.
The Lakers d-line is under-the-radar compared to the rest of the defense, but still very stout. Senior tackle Ethan Kuehn is a 285-pound load in the middle, while Jerod Henderson shows good instincts on the edge. A lot of the Lakers’ 3-4 scheme funnels the ball to the linebackers, but the guys in the trenches will have to hold their own to topple the top-ranked Panthers at TCO Stadium in Eagan.
Rochester Lourdes Rush O vs Stewartville Rush D
The Eagles veer-option offense has produced three state titles since 2010 and a fourth might not be far behind if Mike Kesler’s crew keeps up its 2018 pace. Lourdes has rushed for an average of 300 yards per game, with a 7.1 rate of yards per carry. The attack amounts to a three-headed monster with quarterback Matt Hayford, along with running backs Jake Groteboer and Zach Jungels each having over 40 carries and 300 yards this fall.
The Tigers will look to slow down Lourdes using an experienced front-seven. Linebackers Zac Trenary and Elton Myhre are two of the team’s top tacklers, while Carter Jannsen anchors the linemen in the trenches.
Paynesville Pass O vs Pierz Pass D
Since their 30-20 Week 1 loss to No. 2 (A) BOLD, the Bulldogs have rattled off five-straight victories, averaging almost 49 points per game. Quarterback Max Weidner and running back Zach Schroeder have been as good as they were in their All-District junior seasons. Receivers Sam Oehrlein and Levi Bast have also developed into reliable targeted for Weidner through the air.
The Pioneers defense appears to be less dominant than last year, specifically against the pass. Just two weeks again, Melrose’s Reegan Nelson threw for 380 yards and three touchdowns to almost upset Pierz at home. Defensive back Reese Kapsner anchors the Pioneers pass defensive, but the key might be with the pass rush as guys like Zach Traut and Carson Huls will have to get to Weidner in the backfield.
East Ridge WR vs Woodbury DB
The battle for bragging rights in Woodbury will hinge on the Royals ability to stop the Raptors aerial attack. East Ridge and quarterback Zach Zebrowski have averaged around 300 passing yards per game, with receiver Simon Stark leading the team in receptions. Senior Cameron Ashford has also emerged the past two weeks, hauling in the game-winning touchdown against Cretin-Derham Hall in Week 5.
Woodbury’s pass defense has been great all season to help Andy Hill’s team to a 5-1 start. The Royals have not allowed a quarterback to throw for more than 200 yards, recording six interceptions and 11 sacks. Cornerback Jenaro Ocama leads the team with three picks, while Joe Frommelt and Drew Bramlett each have a single interception.
Eden Prairie RB vs Minnetonka LB
The Eagles and Skippers – the top-two teams entering the season in Class AAAAAA – will have a combined four losses after this game, regardless of which team emerges victorious. Like in year’s past between Mike Grant and Dave Nelson, the outcome will be determined by ‘Tonka’s ability to stop Eden Prairie’s running game.
This is probably the least effective the Eagles have been running the ball in the past decade. Their top rushers are seniors Jordan Amundson (309 yards, three TD) and Nic Krueger (241, two TD), but neither player has gone over the 100-yard plateau.
The Skippers defense is still one of the best in the metro, but has given up a lot of rushing yards to teams like Wayzata and Edina. Junior linebacker Elliot Ische has emerged to become the team’s leading tackler, while Jack Ripini has also been productive. Can Minnetonka consistently stop the run to give its offense a chance at the upset on Friday?