The last few years, NFN’s Brian Jerzak has attempted to highlight one team per class that was coming off a sub-.500 record who has a chance to make a significant step forward. Here is the second of his seven sleeper-team stories, with the selection from Class AAAAA.
NFN’s 2018 AAAAA sleeper: St. Paul Highland Park
2017 Record: 4-5
Returning starters: Joe Mather QB, Seth Zeitchick RB/DB, Cain Russell RB/DB, Ash Schultz-Perry RB/LB, Jayou Mensah RB/DB, Ben Sessou WR/DL, Travon Ethridge OL, Yeabsira Tekeste OL, Malek Stagg OL, Travon Ethridge DL, Robert Caldwell LB
The Scots played well for stretches of the season in 2017 and based on who they have coming back those stretches of good play should be longer and more consistent. Nine offensive starters – including All-Conference running backs Seth Zeitchick and Ash Schultz-Perry – return to an offense that put up 40 points twice in 2017. Head coach Dave Zeitchick also returns quarterback Joe Mather and three starting offensive linemen from last season.
On the defensive side of the ball, they return seven starters including defensive back Cain Russell and defensive lineman Ben Sessou.
Coach Zeitchick likes his team’s speed, athletism, and experience – especially at the skill positions. Although most teams can rightfully claim this, Zeitchick feels depth up front is an area that will need to be addressed for the team to improve on its season in 2017.
Highland Park has been above the .500 mark four out of the last six years. The 2018 team has the feel of a team that will make it five out of the previous seven winning seasons.