Tomorrow is finally the day! Much like Christmas Eve, I am sure I’m not the only going to bed giddy tonight, and Friday’s matchups are the proverbial presents that will be dancing through my head tonight. In preparation for the games, I figured it would be fun to list and comment on some interesting storylines, good team contests, and any other fun facts I can think of regarding Week 1! Thanks for reading.
Mankato East vs. Worthington
The Mankato East Cougars are bringing a really talented rosters led by senior big-boys Eli OlsonEliOlson6'5" | OLMankato East | 2021StateMN
(UMD commit) and Rieley FlemingRieleyFlemingOLMankato East | 2021StateMN
, and junior QB Jacob EggertJacobEggert6'1" | QBMankato-East | 2022StateMN
and ATH Gus GartzkeGusGartzke5'9" | LBMankato-East | 2022StateMN
, so I’m really excited to see how their offense looks especially. This is one of their most talented rosters in a while, and they have a lot to prove this season. Olson is one of the most under-recruited 2021 lineman in the state as well, and is the de facto leader of a Cougar squad that has a great chance to beat cross-town rival Mankato West this year. On the other side, Worthington is coming off a winless 2019 season but have a senior-heavy team with some talent in 2021s Terbuto Ochothow (6’, 165), Brock Burns (6’5, 185), Tommy Lais (6’3, 185), and Kent Lais (5’11, 175). They have a lot to prove this season as well.
Shakopee vs. St. Michael-Albertville
This is an intriguing 6A matchup that I believe our scout Brian Jerzak is covering, and there’s a lot of talent in the 2021 class featured here. Both teams graduated a stud as Shako lost Connor Raines to graduation and STMA graduated Kale Hoselton, but some heavy-hitters in the trenches to replace their talent. The Knights IOL Everett SunvoldEverettSunvoldOLSt. Michael-Albertville | 2021StateMN
will have an exciting personal matchup against Minnesota Golden Gopher DL commit Deven EasternDevenEastern6'5" | DLShakopee | 2021StateMN
, so I’m excited to see the Hudl film from that. Also worth noting is the size Shako has, as in-addition to Eastern (6’5, 265), they have OL Dylan Hack (6’3, 265), 2022 OL Jade Trelstad (6’, 225), and LB Vincent Nyanducha (6’2, 210). The dark-horse on all of Shakopee is 2022 WR Nick KatonaNickKatona6'6" | WRShakopee | 2022StateMN
(6’6, 180), a fantastic 2-sport ATH who I’m really high on and am hoping can have an impressive junior campaign. For the Knights, QB Jack DrobinskiJackDrobinski6'2" | QBSt. Michael-Albertville | 2021StateMN
and RB David CollinsDavidCollins5'8" | RBSt. Michael-Albertville | 2021StateMN
will need to have big games.
Mayer Lutheran vs. Janesville-Waldorf-Pemberton
What I like most about this game is the non-senior talent on both sides. For Mayer-Lutheran, 2022 6’7, 205 TE Teigan Martin has the potential to be one of the best TE’s in the Midwest, and 2022 QB Ty HoeseTyHoese6'2" | QBMayer-Lutheran | 2022StateMN
is a stud in his own right and a D1 prospect to boot. I’m also a fan of 2022 Elijah JoppElijahJopp6'3" | LBMayer-Lutheran | 2022StateMN
(6’3, 170) of Mayer-Lutheran, and they have a strong and experienced senior OL leader in Rogan LilienthalRoganLilienthalOLMayer Lutheran | 2021StateMN
. For JWP, 2023s Karson LindsayKarsonLindsay6'1"Janesville-Waldorf-Pemberton | 2023MN
and Ryder Thissen have a lot to like in their game, and Lindsay is one of the top 2023 prospects in the state. They also have some 2022 talent in Dawson Slughter, and have some strong top-end senior leadership in OL Cody Gartner (6’2, 210), RB Jack Morsching (5’8, 160), and ATH Jacob Crouch (6’2, 190). I’ll be looking forward to checking out the film from this game.
Champlin Park vs. Centennial
This game will be a rematch of CP’s only 2019 loss besides the Prep Bowl, and it will be interesting to see how both squads look after losing some studs to graduation such as Jaice MillerJaiceMiller6'4" | WRChamplin Park | 2020StateMN
and Brock Johnson for the Rebels, and Connor Zulk and Carter Anderson for the Cougars. Both sides do return experienced senior talent, and both will need a lot of leadership to navigate the first game with new players at a lot of positions. For Champlin I’ll be excited to check out recent St. Thomas RB commit Shawn ShipmanShawnShipman5'11" | RBChamplin Park | 2021StateMN
, as well as DBs Edmund Ocansey and Cam Hammonds, and for Centennial DEs Zach FrankZachFrank6'2" | DECentennial | 2021StateMN
and Elijah Ward will bring a lot of pressure to the new Rebel QB, and 2022 LB Mason MixMasonMix5'11" | LBCentennial | 2022StateMN
will help the backend of Centennial’s defense as well. Someone on offense will need to make this season their own for Centennial.
Apple Valley vs. Hopkins
In a great Week 1 5A battle it’s hard not to notice LB RJ ChakolisRJChakolis5'11" | LBHopkins | 2021StateMN
for Hopkins, the best LB in the 2021 class and a defending AAA 195 lb. state champion wrestler. He’s helped out on the OL by college prospects AJ Torfin and Ryan Papacek, but Hopkins will have a lot to prove on their normally potent offense, as a lot of skill-position players will need to step-up into bigger roles. For Apple Valley, 2022 talents Tim WyandtTimWyandt6'1" | QBApple Valley | 2022StateMN
and Conner Elliot will have to have big games on offense and defense respectively if the AV Eagles want to earn themselves a victory.
Fridley vs. SMB
One of the best matchups regardless of class today, both Fridley and SMB have a lot of returning talent but have to replace big-time playmakers from the 2019 season. Of course, SMB has to replace Mr. Football and Mr. Basketball Jalen SuggsJalenSuggs6'4" | QBSMB | 2020StateMN
, so the QB replacement Charlie JohnsonCharlieJohnson6'2" | QBSMB | 2022StateMN
is a position to watch in both this game and the whole season. Luckily, he’s got a lot of WR talent in Savion RobinsonSavionRobinson6'0" | WRSMB | 2021StateMN
, 2022 Ty LockettTyLockett5'10" | WRSMB | 2022StateMN
, and two-way threat Tony Avila-TovalinTonyAvila-TovalinDBSMB | 2021StateMN
, so if he can be accurate in his ball-distribution the Wolfpack offense can stay dangerous. They also have a really exciting 2023 prospect in 6’9, 300+ OT Peyton LangePeytonLange6'7" | DLSMB | 2023StateMN
, easily one of the top-2 2023s in the state. SMB also has some really exciting defensive prospects in 2021 DT Kevvan AndersonKevvanAnderson6'0" | DLSMB | 2021StateMN
- one of the most underrecruited DTs in the state - as well as 2022 P5 DE Chase CarterChaseCarter6'6" | DLSMB | 2022StateMN
. I’m also a big fan of 2022 LB Michael HallMichaelHall6'1" | LBSMB | 2022StateMN
, and MIAC FS recruit Tobias Jacobson provides an experienced leader in the secondary. For Fridley, they need to replace All-Metro ATH and Winona State commit Kaleb BlahaKalebBlaha6'1" | QBFridley | 2020StateMN
, but have a really deep and talented senior class with Air Force DT commit Cheick KabaCheickKaba6'1" | DLFridley | 2021StateMN
, DB Micah Niewald, LB Charles RiceCharlesRiceLBFridley | 2021StateMN
, DT and stud wrestler Josh FranklinJoshFranklin6'3" | DLFridley | 2021StateMN
, and WR/DB Terrell DavisTerrellDavisDBFridley | 2021StateMN
. Michael Ude is another prospect for Fridley I like.
St. Thomas Academy vs. Coon Rapids
The STA Cadets would have probably been one of my favorites to win the 2020 5A state championship if we were having a state tournament. They have studs returning across a board, with my pick for 5A Preseason Defensive Player of the Year in Garrison SollidayGarrisonSolliday6'0" | DLSt. Thomas Academy | 2021StateMN
, as well as a loaded RB backfield in Danny McFaddenDannyMcFadden5'9" | RBSt. Thomas Academy | 2021StateMN
, and another Top-10 2023 prospect in Love AdebayoLoveAdebayo5'9" | DLSt. Thomas Academy | 2023StateMN
. Cadets DB Yenika FondungallahYenikaFondungallahDBSt. Thomas Academy | 2021StateMN
continues the theme of standout DBs to wear the STA uniform, and DE Oscar Berg and LB Jaime Smith are poised for big seasons as well. The big question for STA will be can they replace their 2020 OL studs, and how efficient can their QB play. Coon Rapids has a lot of talent to replace as well, as their senior class last season took them to the 5A state semifinals, with Myles TaylorMylesTaylor6'0" | LBCoon Rapids | 2020StateMN
playing his college football at Augustana, QB Jake Van Hulzen playing at Winona State, and LB Jordan NolanJordanNolan6'0" | LBCoon Rapids | 2020StateMN
heading to SMSU. However, they still have one of the best-kept OL secrets in the state in Gavin LaytonGavinLayton6'4" | OLCoon Rapids | 2021StateMN
, and have an experienced LB prospect in Ethan TedrowEthanTedrowLBCoon Rapids | 2021StateMN
returning to help lead the defense. 2022 RB David GeebliDavidGeebli5'9" | RBCoon Rapids | 2022StateMN
and WR Sonny ThaoSonnyThaoDBCoon Rapids | 2021StateMN
will need to be offensive playmakers for Coon Rapids to replicate their season from last year.
Providence Academy vs. Mound Westonka
Another good matchup, both teams return a good amount of talent that I’m really excited to see play this year. For Providence Academy, 2022 RB Jacob MeissnerJacobMeissner5'10" | RBProvidence Academy | 2022StateMN
is a stud who could play some high level college football, and have a deep 2022 class with Sean Allerheiligan (6’2, 195), Logan Ahlers (5’11, 185), and Mark McCarthy (6’4, 225) are all good-looking college prospects. The Mound Westonka squad is more heavy with senior talent led by Logan Leonard and Tucker AnderlyTuckerAnderlyATHMound Westonka | 2021StateMN
. Those two can flat out ball, and will need to do a lot for the Whitehawks this season.
Luverne vs. Pipestone
A small-school matchup that our scout Jake EvansJakeEvansWRWillmar | 2019StateMN
will be at, Luverne has a potent offense led by lineman Zach AhrendtZachAhrendtOLLuverne | 2021StateMN
, the recent Southwest Minnesota State commit, and overlooked RB LaShad Smith. They are joined by fellow seniors Bailey Cowell (6’, 160) and Carlton Oftedahl (6’3, 265) to combine for a well-led and well-experienced team. Pipestone is looking to continue it’s streak of getting deep into the section playoffs, and have a nice-looking 2023 prospect in 6’3, 225 lineman Jayden Hoss. They also have a good recruit in 2021 Dawson Schelhaas. It should be a good game!
Alden-Conger vs. Nicollet
Alden-Conger had a very interesting game week as they had to reschedule against three different opponents against Watertown-Elysian-Morristown, GFW, United South Central, and then found a confirmed matchup to play 9-man ball against Nicollet. Talk about wanting to play! I’m excited to follow Isaac BurgettIsaacBurgett5'9" | ATHAlden-Conger/Glenville-Emmons | 2021StateMN
of Alden-Conger to track his senior season, and Nicollet has a lot of talent including 6’6, 185 Shane Stevensen, and fellow seniors Nathan Duis (6’, 175), Austin Gieseke (6’1, 175), Riley Mans (6’, 165), and Tyler Laven (6’1, 190). They also have a nice 2022 QB prospect in 6’3, 160 Colton Thomsen.
Rosemount vs. Lakeville North
Unfortunately cancelled due to COVID-19.
Eden Prairie vs. Minnetonka
The StarTribune Game of the Week, ’Tonka is coming off their worst season in recent memory and have a new Head Coach, but have some experienced players returning such as UMD OL commit Peter GrefePeterGrefeOLMinnetonka | 2021StateMN
, and fellow senior offensive weapons Ben Tolkinen and Jaxen Iverson. They also have a loaded 2022 class led by ATH Cade ConzemiusCadeConzemius5'9" | ATHMinnetonka | 2022StateMN
and DT Andrew McCallaAndrewMcCalla5'10" | DLMinnetonka | 2022StateMN
, so the future is looking bright for the Skippers. The Eden Prairie Eagles are also coming off a down season by their standards, but are going to have an exciting 2020 season as their senior class is filled to the brim with talent in WR and UMD commit Cade KramerCadeKramer6'2" | WREden Prairie | 2021StateMN
- one of the most underrecruited wideouts in the Midwest - as well as NDSU OL commit Sam Henry, NSIC OL target Forrest ScheelForrestScheelOLEden Prairie | 2021StateMN
, and Iowa LB commit Justice SullivanJusticeSullivan6'2" | LBEden Prairie | 2021StateMN
. 2021 DE Trent Jones IITrentJones II6'3" | DLEden Prairie | 2021StateMN
is still getting recruited by NDSU and could benefit from a huge senior season, and LB Dan Knudsen is no slouch himself. They also have some studs in the 2022 class with potential breakout star Logan GareisLoganGareis5'10" | ATHEden Prairie | 2022StateMN
, already known star Bennett LarsonBennettLarson5'10" | LBEden Prairie | 2022StateMN
at LB, and playmaker Javon Palmer-Pruitt.
Princeton vs. Annandale
This is another one of the best games in the state regardless of class, and both teams are stacked. Annandale is a gigantic football team size-wise, as Golden Gopher OT commit Logan PurcellLoganPurcell6'7" | OLAnnandale | 2021StateMN
checks in at 6’7, 240, NSIC and potential Missouri Valley OL Isaac HagstromIsaacHagstrom6'5" | OLAnnandale | 2021StateMN
is 6’5, 260, NSIC and NAIA OL target Drew ConteDrewConteOLAnnandale | 2021StateMN
is 6’2, 275, and QB Landon JonesLandonJones6'5" | QBAnnandale | 2021StateMN
is 6’5, 225. Princeton has one of the best athletes in the 2022 class in the Midwest in Haydn StayHaydnStay6'4" | ATHPrinceton | 2022StateMN
, and is led with senior experience from LB Thomas Rush, lineman Ben WestlingBenWestlingOLPrinceton | 2021StateMN
, and OL Cade Willie. I wish I could attend this one in person and am excited to see the film!
Spring Lake Park vs. Becker
This was originally supposed to be a matchup of Spring Lake Park vs. Robbinsdale Armstrong, but COVID had other plans. Instead, we get a really unique contest against two teams who normally wouldn’t play each other in SLP vs. the Becker Bulldogs. Both teams have been historically strong in the 2010s, and Spring Lake Park has a lot of speed and talent in their skill positions in WR/FS and NSIC target Kaleb SkellyKalebSkelly6'4" | WRSpring Lake Park | 2021StateMN
, WR Nicholas WetzelNicholasWetzelATHSpring Lake Park | 2021StateMN
, truck-stick RB Henry DennisHenryDennisRBSpring Lake Park | 2021StateMN
Jr., and FS Joey SorensonJoeySorensonATHSpring Lake Park | 2021StateMN
. They also have one of the best 2022 DE prospects in the state in Nicholas Ojile, who already holds a UMD offer. The Becker Bulldgs hold one of the best LB trios in the state in the grossly overlooked Brayden WeberBraydenWeber6'2" | LBBecker | 2021StateMN
, Caden DeWall, and Tommy and Teddy HalvorsonTeddyHalvorsonLBBecker | 2021StateMN
. They need to replace some productive offense studs due to graduation to continue their success from the past decade.
Sartell vs. St. Cloud Apollo
Both teams have good looking rosters, with Sartell containing talent of all ages led by senior ATH Ethan TorgrimsonEthanTorgrimson6'0" | RBSartell-St. Stephen | 2021StateMN
- who is getting a lot of recruiting attention from the University of Mary and also holds Bemidji State, Concordia-Moorhead, and UW-River Falls offers. 2023 QB Cole HentgesColeHentges5'10" | LBSartell-St. Stephen | 2023StateMN
is a great athlete for his age and played significant minutes last season, and 2022 6’5, 250 lb. TE Blake Haus should be a name-to-know for MN prep football fans going forward. Fellow junior Steven BrinkerhoffStevenBrinkerhoff5'11" | LBSartell-St. Stephen | 2022StateMN
has some game as well. For Apollo, 2022 6’8 DE prospect Thomas DiewThomasDiew6'8" | DLSt. Cloud Apollo | 2022StateMN
has a P5 ceiling in football, and has a stud opposite of him in 6’, 220 DE David Guzman, but Apollo’s senior class is worth mentioning as Ismael Hall (6’, 210), Erassy Antsino, Peter Zorn (5’10, 150), Jakob Corrow (6’2, 165), David Boyd Jr. (6’3, 185), Max Overboe (6’1, 200), and Zach Trushenski make for one of the best senior classes for Apollo in recent memory. Let’s see if they can make some noise.
Stillwater vs. White Bear Lake
The Stillwater Ponies have some nice prospects in their senior class in 6’1, 260 OL Cameron Morgan, 6’, 185 ATH Erik Roettger, returning All-Conference RB/WR Nick Schlender, RB duo Dom and Joe Krenz, 6’1, 180 QB Casey Venske, and 6’1, 195 lb. DB/LB Ian Tandy all can play college ball. For White Bear Lake, I like UST 6’5, 245 TE commit John McBrideJohnMcBride6'6" | TEWhite Bear Lake | 2021StateMN
, and QB Branden BerwaldBrandenBerwaldQBWhite Bear Lake | 2021StateMN
throws a nice ball and is a high-academic kid. 2022 OT prospect Jeremiah Peterson is well-built at 6’2, 250 as well.
Burnsville vs. Lakeville South
A tough Week 1 matchup for the Burnsville Blaze, they will need senior playmaker Myiion Hodges Jr. to have a big game, and will also rely on their talented 2022 class to play like seniors as 6’5 WR Jay HomuthJayHomuth6'5" | WRBurnsville | 2022StateMN
, 6’2, 215 LB Dylan Fischer, 6’2, 220 FB Colton Gregersen, 6’, 190 QB Bailey WishartBaileyWishartQBBurnsville | 2022StateMN
, and 6’4, 270 OL Mateo NoriegaMateoNoriega6'4" | OLBurnsville | 2022StateMN
all are looking for breakout seasons. I also like 2021 OT Derek Olsen for the Blaze. For the 2019 6A state semifinal showing Cougars of Lakeville South, they return the #1 prospect in the 2021 class in MN in Riley MahlmanRileyMahlman6'7" | OLLakeville South | 2021StateMN
, but need to replace what was a loaded backfield in 2019 as Minnesota State-Mankato RB commit John Shabaz, UW-Lacrosse commit Hank English, and All-State DB/RB George BrekkeGeorgeBrekkeQBLakeville South | 2020StateMN
. They also need to replace All-State OL Kyle Lattery as well. However, they have one of the best 2022 prospects in the state in TE Chase AndroffChaseAndroff6'6" | TELakeville South | 2022StateMN
, a D1 football recruit and D1 hockey commit in LB/DL Cade AhrenholzCadeAhrenholzDLLakeville South | 2021StateMN
, and DII basketball commit Reid PattersonReidPattersonQBLakeville South | 2021StateMN
at QB. I think the Cougars are going to be just fine this year.
Glencoe Silver Lake vs. Litchfield
The Litchfield Dragons have one of the best SW small-school MN senior classes in 6’4, 277 lb OL Dom DietelDomDietel6'4" | OLLitchfield | 2022StateMN
, returning District MVP in QB Benjamin AlslebenBenjaminAlslebenQBLitchfield | 2021StateMN
, 6’3, 260 OL Christian KelseyChristianKelseyOLLitchfield | 2021StateMN
, 6’1, 180 ATH Maison Olson, and 5’11, 190 WR/ATH Bennett LEcher.The Glencoe Silver Lake team has a great 2022 OL prospect in 6’1, 260 Nathan Stoltenburg, a 6’4, 210 RB prospect in 2022 in Michael Jaskowiak, and a 6’4, 270 senior OL Nathan Warner, so there will be some good battles near the LOS.
Fairbault vs. Northfield
Always a good rivalry, Fairbault and Northfield are 20 minutes apart and the rivalry has usually gone to the Northfield Raiders, but Fairbault has a lot of talent this year, especially in their 2022 class, with 5’10, 215 RB Elijah Hammonds and 6’5, 290 2022 lineman Devin Lockerby - who is receiving a lot of NDSU interest. They also have an intriguing 2021 prospect in 6’6, 205 Nick Ehlers. Northfield has a big WR prospect themselves in 2022 6’5, 195 Zach Edwards, and will lean heavily on offensive weapon and overall ATH Cole Stanchina. Should be a good game!
Mounds View vs. Woodbury
An exciting 6A contest, Mounds View graduated one of the best QBs in the Metro in South Dakota commit Cole StenstromColeStenstrom6'1" | QBMounds View | 2020StateMN
, but returns a great-looking defensive prospect in 6’2, 220 Drew Lindgren and a stud Metro OL in 6’4, 300 Bill KetolaBillKetolaOLMounds View | 2021StateMN
. Mounds View qualified for the state tournament last season, and will need their QB and WRs to come up big to replicate this success. For Woodbury - who graduated NDSU PWO LB commit Cole Smutny and UST LB commit Parker Theis - but return a lot of talent in similar positions to the MV Mustangs as Minnesota State-Moorhead LB commit Jack BungardenJackBungarden6'2" | LBWoodbury | 2021StateMN
can hit ya and returning All-Metro OL Jake RainesJakeRaines6'2" | OLWoodbury | 2021StateMN
is criminally underrated and is another stud to commit to the UMD Bulldogs in college. It will be a nice game in the trenches!