The 28-game winning streak Caledonia has put together is one of the best in Minnesota high school football history. The Warriors are outscoring their opponents by an average of almost 40 points through the third quarter of those games. In fact, the final 12 minutes have been a draw over the course of the streak, largely because the Warriors have “called off the dogs”.
Don’t expect a new schedule to make things too much tougher for Carl Fruechte’s squad in 2017. Quarterback Owen King enters his final varsity campaign with more than 5,300 yards and 92 touchdowns in his career, with only eight interceptions. King’s favorite receiver, Andrew Goergen, also returns for an offense that averaged nearly 47 points per game last season.
Senior Brent Robley will anchor both the offensive and defensive lines, which will be a little undersized compared to past Caledonia teams, but plenty effective to carry the program to its eighth state championship.
In any other year, Eden Valley-Watkins and its elite speed would be the favorite in a small-school class, but the juggernaut that is Caledonia stands in the Eagles’ way in 2017.
Two-way starter Matt Schindler is the fastest of Jon Thielen’s bunch, starting at both receiver and defensive back for a third-straight year. He caught 47 passes and recorded eight interceptions, leading the team in both categories as a junior as the Eagles advanced to Prep Bowl XXXV.
Jamison Kuechle and Justin Streit are two other skill players with experience who return on both sides of the ball. Three offensive linemen, led by Andrew Bautch, are also back, but a replacement for quarterback Reese Jansen needs to be found to give the Eagles a solid chance to get back to U.S. Bank Stadium.
After a 11-win season that ended with a loss to Barnesville at the FargoDome, Pillager is reloaded for a run back to state even with a tougher slate of regular season games.
The Huskies return seven starters on both offense and defense. Quarterback Joshua Doss is back to lead an offense that scored 40 or more points in seven games in 2016. He’ll have four of five linemen back in front of him, led by Tyler Wilcox.
Senior Eli Horn is a mainstay on both sides of the ball after rushing for 408 yards and six touchdowns and recording 82 tackles. The biggest question for Paul Peterson and his staff is how to replace running back/defensive back Ridge Hunstad, who led the team in rushing and receiving and also tied for the most interceptions in Minnesota.
The Polars will be trying to accomplish an unprecedented feat in Minnesota High School football – win consecutive titles at two different class levels. Only Minneota in 2013 and 2014 has played in two-straight Prep Bowls at different levels. The Vikings fell short in 2013 in Class AA as Minneota/Lincoln-HI, but then dropped down and won Class A one year later.
North has an opportunity to contend in Class AA this season because of a strong core of physical players that return. Two-way lineman Odell Wilson is a monster on both sides of the ball, while junior Kehyan Porter proved to be a physical ball carrier down the stretch last season.
Linebacker Phazion Scott is also back after a stellar season for Charles Adams’ defense last fall. The Polars defense, which held opponents to just six points in the second half of five postseason games, also returns Tayler Johnson at defensive back, along with two other starters.
The Trojans might have been a slot or two higher, but Brady Tweeton’s leg fracture demotes them to the fifth and final spot in the Class AA rankings.
Tweeton was expected to be Barnesville’s best playmaker again in 2017. The 160-pounder averaged more than 11 yards-per-carry last fall and scored 28 touchdowns out of the backfield. He also started at defensive back. Coach Bryan Strand said Tweeton is expected to miss at least six regular-season games.
Running back Brady Martz (700 rush yards, 10 TD) and quarterback Caleb Stetz (700 pass yards, 12 TD) will have to be more prolific on offense without Tweeton’s production early this season.
With only three starters until Tweeton returns, the Trojans young defense will also have to step up too. Sophomore Hunter Zenzen and junior Preston Snobl should lead the front seven in the season-opening test against Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton.