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Prep Blog: Previewing The State Football Semifinals

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Parts of Minnesota got a foot or more of snow earlier this week, and now we're dealing with extremely cold weather for the middle of November.

It's the perfect time for another week of outdoor high school football, right? The players and coaches aren't bothered by it, but fans might be singing a different tune this week as the State Football semfinals take place Thursday through Saturday. The early snowfall and expected cold temperatures forced Minnesota State High School League officials to change a few game venues and some start times.

It's a huge week for the four teams that are left in each class. You're playing for something that might have only seemed like a dream in August: A chance to play for a state championship. The teams that advance this week head to TCF Bank Stadium to play in the Prep Bowl, while the others wonder what might have been after getting so close. Here are some of the top match-ups for this week's state semifinals.

9-Man: Grand Meadow (12-0) vs. Kittson County Central (9-2)
St. Cloud State

Grand Meadow has a chance to earn a spot in its third straight Prep Bowl appearance Friday afternoon as it faces Kittson County Central in a state semifinal at St. Cloud State. The Superlarks have won 25 of their last 26 games, beat Underwood in the Prep Bowl last year and got there two seasons ago before losing to Clinton-Graceville-Beardsley. They're 12-0 this year with a defense that's just as dominant as its offense. The Superlarks haven't allowed more than 18 points in a game this season, including nine games in single digits and three shutouts. On offense, they've scored at least 47 points in all but two games.

Kittson County Central has won four straight games since losing to Stephen-Argyle to end the regular season. The Bearcats got to the state semfinals last year before losing to Grand Meadow 21-7, so they'll be playing with a chip on their shoulder.

It's one of two featured games for WCCO-TV's High School Sports Rally.

9-Man: Norman County East/Ulen-Hitterdahl (9-3) vs. Edgerton/Ellsworth (11-1)
St. Cloud State

This is the second semifinal on Friday at St. Cloud State and features a pair of perennial Nine-Man powers. Edgerton/Ellsworth has won nine straight games since a Week 3 loss at Nicollet. They got revent on Nicollet with a 58-18 win last week in the state quarterfinals. The Flying Dutchmen have to get pas Norman County East/Ulen-Hitterdahl to get to the Prep Bowl. The Titans have won five straight games since a Week 7 loss at Win-E-Mac. They beat Kelliher/Northome 21-6 last week to earn a spot in the state semifinals. It's our other featured game for WCCO-TV's High School Sports Rally.

Class 4A: DeLaSalle (10-1) vs. Hutchinson (11-0)
Prior Lake High School

Two of the best teams in Class 4A square off Saturday afternoon in Prior Lake as Hutchinson faces DeLaSalle with a trip to the Prep Bowl on the line. The Tigers have won 37 straight games and two consecutive state titles. With a win over the Islanders, they'll get their chance for three straight. But they'll face one of their toughest tests of the season against DeLaSalle, a team has scored at least 30 points in all but one game this year and doesn't allow much on defense. That unit will be tested against Hutchinson, which features one of the best rushing attacks in the state. The winner faces the Becker/Stewartville winner in the Prep Bowl next week. DeLaSalle's only loss of the season came to Holy Angels, which Hutchinson just beat last week.

Class 6A: Eden Prairie (11-0) vs. Maple Grove (10-1)
Hopkins High School

Two of the best teams in Class 6A square off Friday night at Hopkins. One is a state tournament regular seeking its fourth straight championship, the other is knocking on the door as Maple Grove is looking to knock off Eden Prairie. The Crimson's best chance to keep the Eagles' offense on the sideline. While Eden Prairie has been winning state titles the last three years, Maple Grove has been knocked out in the state quarterfinals in each of the past two seasons. The Crimson have won four straight games since losing to Osseo in Week 7. In that process, they've allowed a total of seven points with three shutouts. Eden Prairie has scored 27 points or more in all but one game this season. It's a great match-up on paper. The winner faces the Totino-Grace/Lakeville North winner in the Prep Bowl.

St. Michael-Albertville (10-1) vs. Mankato West (10-1)
Eden Prairie High School

The top two teams in Class 5A meet Saturday night in Eden Prairie as St. Michael-Albertville faces Mankato West. Their styles couldn't differ more, creating a fantastic match-up. The Knights' only loss of the year came at Chisago Lakes in Week 5. They've won six straight and beat Bemidji 29-14 last week to advance. St. Michael-Albertville wins with defense and a consistent run game. Mankato West likes to spread it out and throw the football down the field. The Scarlets have also scored 38 points or more in all abut one game this year. That includes a 48-0 win over Bloomington Jefferson last week. St. Michael-Albertville's best defense might be an offense that keeps the ball and the Mankato West offense off the field. The winner meets the Simley/Spring Lake Park winner in the Prep Bowl.

Class A: Minneapolis North (12-0) vs. Dawson-Boyd (11-1)
Hopkins High School

Minneapolis North is one of the great high school football stories of the fall, and the unbeaten Polars are one win away from the Prep Bowl as they face Dawson-Boyd on Saturday at Hopkins High School. They're coming off a 14-6 win over Blooming Prairie last week, and the Polars have won this year with defense. They've allowed more than six points per game just twice, and have five shutouts in that process. They'll be tested against Dawson-Boyd, a squad that got to the Prep Bowl last year and lost to Mahnomen. The Lumberjacks' only loss of the season came in late September to Minneota, and they've won seven straight since. They've also scored at least 27 points in all but two games this season. The winner gets the Braham/Minneota winner in the Prep Bowl.

Tune into WCCO-TV's High School Sports Rally at about 10:20 p.m. Friday as Mike Max, Frank Vascellaro and David McCoy will have all the action covered.

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