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Prep Blog: Week 4, Previewing 'The Big 4'

It's hard to believe, but this week marks the midway point of the high school football season.

Fall officially started this week, but it feels more like the middle of summer with temperatures near 90. It's a crucial point in the year for many high school teams as they try to build momentum for the second half of the season and the playoffs.

It's as big a time for the unbeaten teams as it is those teams that are looking to snap a losing streak. Conference races are still very much up for grabs, and playoff seeds are at stake for when teams need that crucial home field advantage.

There are a lot of great match-ups this week between ranked teams and rivals. Here are four of this week's top games.

St. Michael-Albertville (3-0) at Centennial (3-0)

Two of the surprise teams in Class 6A meet Friday night, and they're both unbeaten and top 10 teams as No. 8-ranked Centennial hosts No. 6-ranked St. Michael-Albertville. It's our Featured Game for WCCO-TV's High School Sports Rally.

The Cougars are 3-0 with wins over White Bear Lake, an upset of Totino-Grace and last week's 16-0 win at Anoka. The Cougars rush for nearly 260 yards per game, and it's led by the duo of Sam Bonfe (126 yards per game, 5 TDs) and Ryan Koob (104 yards per game, 5 TDs). But Centennial is winning with defense. After last week's shutout, the Cougars are allowing an average of just 12.6 points per game through three wins.

The Knights have wins at Mounds View, at then top-10 Blaine and a 31-21 comeback win over Champlin Park last week in their home opener.

St. Michael-Albertville is averaging more than 38 points per game this season, but it'll be a test against the Centennial defense. The Knights are led by Mitch Kartes, who scored four touchdowns last week in the win over Champlin Park. He's rushing for nearly 160 yards per game and has eight touchdowns. Desean Phillips is also running for 102 yards per game, with five touchdowns.

It should be a great match-up between two teams both looking to start 4-0.

Hutchinson (3-0) at Becker (2-1)

Hutchinson and Becker are two of the best teams in the state outside of the Twin Cities metro, and they meet Friday night with the Bulldogs hosting. The two programs have combined to win the last four Class 4A state titles. Both teams are ranked in the top 10 in 4A.

The Tigers enter the contest ranked No. 4 and have started the season with wins over Monticello, Willmar and Big Lake. They're led by running back Josiah Nelson, who has 271 rushing yards and four touchdowns through three games. Quarterback Lane Glaser is throwing for 119 yards per game and has three passing touchdowns.

Becker got started with victories over Chisago Lakes and Princeton before falling in a close battle to Rocori, 16-14, last week. The Bulldogs rush for more than 250 yards per game, led by Sidney Boros at 113 yards and two touchdowns. Quarterback Josh Fobbe is off to a fast start at 179 yards per game and nine passing touchdowns. He also has three rushing scores on the season.

It features to be a great game between a pair of storied football programs.

Chanhassen (2-1) at Benilde-St. Margaret's (3-0)

Chanhassen is looking to bounce back from its first loss of the season to its biggest rival, but they'll have to go on the road and knock off unbeaten Benilde-St. Margaret's to do so. The Red Knights are ranked No. 3 in Class 4A and have started the season with wins over Waconia, Orono and DeLaSalle. The Storm beat Armstrong and Bloomington Jefferson before falling to their rivals last week.

The Red Knights are led by quarterback Tommy Anderson, who is passing for 125 yards per game with six touchdowns. The Storm rush for nearly 240 yards per game and it's a balanced attack, led by Jacob Miller's 90 yards per game and three touchdowns.

St. Thomas Academy (2-1) at Mahtomedi (3-0)

One of the great rivalries in the east metro takes place Friday night as unbeaten Mahtomedi hosts St. Thomas Academy. The Zephyrs are ranked No. 6 in Class 5A with wins over Simley, Park Cottage Grove and Hill-Murray. The Cadets beat North St. Paul in their opener, lost to Apple Valley and beat Henry Sibley last week.

Mahtomedi is led by running back Brandon Anderson, who is averaging 141 yards per game with seven touchdowns on the season. The Zephyrs rush for nearly 240 yards per game. The two teams met last year in the season opener, with Mahtomedi claiming a 19-7 victory.

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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