To the sports fans in this part of the world, cool afternoons and crisp evenings are often described as “football weather”. While the weather may be cooling, the action on the gridiron will be increasing as the regular season comes to a close this week and the playoffs begin next week. This week is MEA week, which means the majority of the games around the state will take place on Wednesday night instead of the traditional Friday night.
Fans, players and coaches around the metro and the state have been waiting for October 19 to arrive and for Eden Prairie to take on Wayzata for the championship of the Lake Conference. The two schools have been ranked #1 and #2 in the Class 5A poll all season; Wayzata opened the season at #1, but Eden Prairie gained the top spot in Week 2 and hasn’t relinquished it. Both schools faced down the challengers in the tough Lake Conference to get to this game with matching 3-0 conference records and 7-0 overall records. The Eagles likely have a bit of revenge on their mind, as Wayzata defeated them 28-27 in the final game of the year last season and claimed the Lake Conference crown; the win helped catapult the Trojans to last year’s Class 5A state championship.
Despite playing in the same conference, Eden Prairie and Wayzata are in different sections for the state playoffs- Eden Prairie’s in Section 6AAAAA with the rest of the Lake Conference teams, while Wayzata plays in Section 5AAAAA with a lot of teams from the Northwest Suburban. Due to the way the playoff brackets are drawn up this year, Eden Prairie and Wayzata wouldn’t play each other until the state championship game, should each team manage to get that far.
The Lake Conference isn’t the only large-school conference with a de facto title game Wednesday night. In the South Suburban, #4 Lakeville North looks to complete an undefeated regular season as they take on Prior Lake in Prior Lake. The Lakers, who ran their conference record to 5-1 last week with a 28-6 victory over Lakeville South, can tie the Panthers atop the South Suburban with a win.
Up in the Northwest Suburban, 5A #9 Osseo and Blaine, each with one loss, face off in Osseo with second place on the line. The winner would tie 5A #6 Anoka atop the conference if the Tornadoes were to lose to Champlin Park.
4A #6 Hutchinson’s locked up at least a share of the Wright County Conference championship- they’re done with conference play and have a perfect 7-0 record within the conference. 4A #7 Delano has a chance to tie them at 7-0- the Wright County Conference has nine teams and Delano doesn’t play Hutch this season- but first the Tigers will need to get by 3A #4 Glencoe-Silver Lake out in Glencoe.
Down in southern Minnesota, 2A #7 Caledonia looks to make it four straight Three Rivers South championships when they travel to 1A #9 Southland. The Warriors are 24-1 in conference play the last five years, with their last conference loss coming at the hands of Southland during the finale of the 2007 season, a game that gave Southland the conference title.
Finally, the Heart O’Lakes Conference title is on the line up by the Canadian border Wednesday night as the Warroad Warriors, more noted for their hockey than their football, put their undefeated conference mark on the line against 2A #6 Hawley. The Nuggets, undefeated in the conference and 7-0 overall, picked up a big 35-0 non-conference win against 3A #9 Pequot Lakes last week in preparation for the Heart O’Lakes title game.
You can see all the matchups and the potential playoff seeds based on QRF ratings for all the ranked teams in each class by going to the Minnesota High School Football Rankings page and then clicking on a specific class.