The 7:00 PM 6A state semifinal showdown between the 10-1 Lakeville North Panthers and the 9-1 Champlin Park Rebels has the makings to be either an offensive shootout or a defensive slugfest. Either way, it’s going to be an entertaining game to watch…
The 7:00 PM 6A state semifinal showdown between the 10-1 Lakeville North Panthers and the 9-1 Champlin Park Rebels has the makings to be either an offensive shootout or a defensive slugfest. Either way, it’s going to be an entertaining game to watch that will be filled with great Minnesota prep football players. Before two of the strongest teams in the state facepff for a chance to compete in the state championship game next week, let’s take a closer look at the two teams and see how they matchup in this Northstar Football News 6A state semifinal preview.
Champlin Park Rebels
The Metro-North runner-up and 1st round bye recipient Rebels finished 5-1 in their subdistrict play and 7-1 overall in the regular season. Despite a tough loss to to Metro-North rival Centennial in week 3 20-21, the Rebels have grinded out tough victories over East Ridge week 1 22-19, Rosemount week 6 17-14, and a 12-7 exhilarating victory against Totino-Grace week 7. I was fortunate enough to cover the Totino game for Northstar, and CP looked like a dark horse 6A contender who had studs at almost every position group on the field. That week 3 loss seemed to fire up CP and they’ve been playing great football since that September 13th loss in Circle Pines. That includes a section victory against Prior Lake 16-7 and a domination of Rosemount – a team who played them tough in the regular season – 34-7 last week in the state quarterfinals. The Rebels are great at playing all four quarters through the final whistle, and remain poised in big-time pressure situation. Also well-coached and disciplined, Champlin Park is a tough team to beat no matter how you look at it.
The Rebels are led by converted 2018 All-District and Sports Jam All-Area WR honoree Jaice Miller (6’4, 210 lbs.) – who has D1 offers from UND and SDSU – Champlin Park presents a balanced offensive attack that passed for almost 1,100 yards and rushed for around 1,600 in the regular season. CP seems to be centering their offense on their ground attack featuring 2021 RB Shawn Shipman (5’11, 185 lbs.) who has ran for 930 yards off 180 carries to go along with eight TD’s in the regular season, and their aforementioned mobile QB Jaice Miller who has added 456 yards off of 76 attempts with a couple TD’s. Miller has great chemistry with senior WR Brock Johnson (5’10, 160 lbs.) who has caught 25 balls for 535 yards and six touchdowns and snagged some clutch throws from Miller at the TG game I covered. Two other Rebel receivers have over 100 yards through the air as well. Defensively, the Rebels have a strong front-seven with big #99 Sam Knutson (6’1, 235 lbs.) who has 36 tackles, six TFL’s, and 4.5 sacks leading their interior with LB’s Devon Moore (6’0, 175 lbs.) and Noah Link (6’3, 190 lbs.) right beside him. Moore is the Rebels utility defensive player and had 43 tackles, two TFL’s, and two FF’s during the regular season. Link is having no slouch of a season himself as he’s posted 75 tackles, five TFL’s, six sacks, one FF, and one INT in the 2019 regular season. I believe Lakeville North’s QB Raja Nelson will really have to work for any yards on the ground this game, and may have to try and throw the ball a little more than they’re comfortable with.
Lakeville North Panthers
Lakeville North sat at the top of the 6A state rankings for all of September until a week 6 loss to cross-town rival and fellow state semifinalist Lakeville South at home 19-34. The Panthers have done a good job rebounding however, as they beat Farmington convincingly in week 8 and had a dominating section run before scraping past a legit Shakopee Saber squad last week 9-7. The Panthers were averaging 57 pass YPG and 241.3 rush YPG during the regular season and have already rushed for an astounding 724 yards in the postseason thus far. They’ve also only given up 45 rushing yards total so far this postseason, so this matchup between the traditionally strong Panther D and CP’s two-headed rushing attack should be a good one. NDSU commit Raja Nelson (5’11, 175 lbs.) had 691 passing yards and 649 rushing yards in the regular season with 447 of those passing yards going to 2020 WR Keaton Mohs (5’10, 175 lbs.). Logan Freeburg (5’9, 180 lbs.) added 956 yards on the ground for the Panthers and Nick Wypy (5’11, 190 lbs.) was North’s stalwart defensive player with 69 total tackles and 3 sacks. Landon Carter (6’2, 215 lbs.) added 6.5 sacks from his DL spot. A little less balanced of an offensive attack compared to Champlin, it will be interesting to see which team will be able to find the end zone against their competitors stingy defense.
My prediction: Champlin Park: 14 Lakeville North: 10