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Prep Blog: Section Playoffs, Previewing 'The Big 4'

It's mid-October, the air is crisp and it's time to win or go home on the Minnesota high school football season. The prep football playoffs actually got started with several games Tuesday and Wednesday night.

Those games helped set up what should be an exciting Friday and Saturday of high school football. This time of year is why players participate in summer camps and go through the two-a-day practices in the fall. Regardless of how the regular season went, most teams still have a chance to get to the state playoffs.

It's what you work so hard for in the offseason, just to have that chance. Friday night marks the start of the Class 6A playoffs, which feature the 32 biggest schools in the state. The winners advance next week to play crossover games, which determine the final eight for the 6A state field.

Saturday marks section semifinal games for all other classes around the state. It's a crazy time, but it's the best time for high school football. This week, we focus on the first round of the 6A playoffs. There are several good match-ups, but we can only choose from four. Just remember that it's the playoffs, and anything can happen.

Woodbury (6-2) at Armstrong (6-2)

It's probably the top game of Friday night's 6A playoffs, and it's in the northwest Twin Cities metro as Armstrong hosts Woodbury. It's a battle between a pair of 6-2 teams, and it's our featured game for WCCO-TV's High School Sports Rally.

Armstrong enters the postseason on a solid run, having won four of its last five games. The Falcons bounced back from a Week 6 28-23 loss to Spring Lake Park to win their last two games, against DeLaSalle and Benilde-St. Margaret's, by a combined 70-13. That included a 28-7 win over the Red Knights to end the regular season. Armstrong is an athletic group, led by quarterback Collis Barber's 135 passing yards per game and 12 touchdowns in the regular season. Evan McClellon leads the Falcons in rushing at 76 yards per game and seven touchdowns. But they might be known more for their defense, which has allowed 10 points or less in five of their six wins. That group is led by Thomas Barber, a linebacker committed to play for the Gophers next year. He's got 78 tackles on the season.

Woodbury is not a team to be taken lightly. The Royals got off to a 4-0 start this year, a stretch that included a 19-14 win over Cretin-Derham Hall. Woodbury also beat Mounds View in Week 7 before a 31-21 loss at East Ridge to end the regular season. The Royals have a talented quarterback in Brady Mundahl who has accounted for 22 touchdowns on the season. He's passing for 189 yards per game with 14 touchdowns and has another eight scores on the ground. Jeremiah Coddon leads the receivers with 37 catches for 602 yards, or better than 16 yards per catch, and eight touchdowns.

Woodbury has proven it can play with the state's top teams, so the Falcons will need another strong defensive effort on their home turf to advance.

Eastview (0-8) at Maple Grove (6-2)

It wasn't that long ago that Eastview was one of the stronger football programs in the Twin Cities. But the Lightning has fallen on tough times, none harder than this year's 0-8 mark in the regular season. All can be forgotten Friday night as Eastview heads to Maple Grove in playoff action. It would be a huge upset, and the Crimson have the talent to make a run in the state playoffs. They ended their regular season with wins over Wayzata, Minnetonka, Prior Lake and Shakopee. Maple Grove is led by talented quarterback Brad Davison and running back Isaac Collins, who is rushing for 148 yards per game and has 18 touchdowns on the season.

Anoka (3-5) at Cretin-Derham Hall (6-2)

Anoka has an upset on its mind and is looking to snap a three-game losing streak with what would be a big playoff victory Friday night at Cretin-Derham Hall. The Raiders will host the Tornadoes at the University of St. Thomas.  Anoka lost to Blaine, Champlin Park and was shut out by Centennial 27-0 to end the regular season. Since a Week 5 loss to East Ridge, the Raiders have beaten Roseville, Forest Lake and Mounds View. They're led by Daniel Ryan's 146 passing yards per game and 14 touchdowns. Kenneth Udoibok leads the rushing attack with 135 yards per game and nine touchdowns.

Mounds View (4-4) at Edina (3-5)

It's an interesting set of circumstances Friday night as Edina hosts Mounds View in the 6A playoffs, yet it's the Mustangs who have the better record. The Hornets snapped a three-game losing streak last week with a 28-14 win at Minnetonka to finish the regular season 3-5. The Mustangs lost three straight to end the regular season after beating White Bear Lake in Week 5. Edina is led by quarterback Brock Boltmann's 127 passing yards per game and 6 touchdowns. The Mustangs are led by running back Jeff Lemay, who is rushing for 74 yards per game and has seven touchdowns.

The playoffs have started and the race to the Prep Bowl is underway, so enjoy the ride. 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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