It’s finally that time of year. You can feel it through the crisp autumn air. Its aroma overshadows the smells of apple orchards and pumpkin spice lattes. Yep, no doubt that’s a year’s worth of blood, sweat, and tears all coming together for one last ride. We got 32 teams, 5 rounds, and 1 big-time bracket to decide who’s the big DAWG when it comes to the Minnesota 6A football playoffs.
As far as I’m concerned, Minnesota high school football does it right. When it comes down to it, you have a guaranteed 48 minutes for the rest of your life. Talk about backs up against the wall. In a sport where it’s the best of 1, everyone’s desperate, and anything can happen. So, let the boys play, every single one of ‘em, because I promise nobody cares who’s on that other sideline. It’s time to go all out. If that doesn’t get you fired up, there’s not a competitive bone in your body. Minnesota 6A football playoffs shows the best-of-the-best, so let’s see the path each one of these 32 teams must take to get a chance at the Prep Bowl in the Bank.
Upper Left Section of the Minnesota 6A Football Playoffs:
1. Centennial versus 8. Burnsville
Centennial only beat 3 teams .500 and above these season. Guess how many total points those opponents scored? 21…combined. As a result, the Cougars need to ride on the backs of their defense as long as they can.
I won’t sugar coat it, the Burnsville flame’s going to have to burn a little hotter for the Blaze if they’re going to make some noise this year. In their 3 best games, they scored at least 29 points in each of them. Therefore, the goal’s to get points and get them in bunches.
4. Mounds View vs 5. Prior Lake
Mounds View does something very well, and that’s channel their inner ‘85 Bears. Unfortunately, they’ve only scored more than 17 once all season, meaning they better be flying around like Danielle Hunter and Harrison Smith. They’ve got the heart to grind it out but not the guns to go to a shootout.
Prior Lake might’ve had the weirdest season out of anyone in 6A. They went from winning opening night 7-6 against Forest Lake, to losing a heart-breaker in the middle of the night to Edina, and then back again to two 20+ point wins to end the season. The biggest key for them is to have a short memory. Build on those last two games because they show a team ready to make some noise
3. Rosemount vs 6. Blaine
Would you be worried when the team who handed Lakeville South their only loss of the season, followed it up with 12 total points over their last two games? Was that middle of the season win a fluke or simply a little bit of luck? Or was it something else? Rosemount has a flicker of that flame left from their last second win against South. Somebody needs to relight it before it’s too late.
Blaine had one of the toughest schedules in 6A this year, and boy did they not back down from a fight. They need to make sure they keep that
dog cat in them for the playoffs because the going’s gonna get tough, and Blaine’s got to make sure they stay going.
2. Woodbury vs 7. Buffalo
Woodbury’s key to success is to use the criticism to fuel them. They’ve had 1 win in the last month, are 4-4, and were still able to end up as a 2-seed. They’re fortunate to be where they’re at, and now, it’s time to prove the people why.
Buffalo needs to start fast and keep the gas on the peddle. Over the course of the year, they beat up on the teams below .500 and took some beatings against the teams above. They need to make sure that offense that averaged 38ppg in their wins shows up.
Lower Left Section of the Minnesota 6A Football Playoffs:
1. Lakeville South vs 8. Roseville
Lakeville South has a lot to prove these playoffs if they want to become a dynasty with their 3rd title in the last 4 years. If the defense can avoid long drives and get the ball back to the offense. Teams will get worn down by the Power of the T.
Roseville’s bright spots were pretty limited this season, but there’s a reason every team gets in the playoffs. In order to be a Cinderella story, there confidence level needs to be higher than when they buried Hopkins 30-0 in their lone win this year.
4. Shakopee vs 5. Champlin Park
Shakopee’s playoff run will be fun. They were a couple scores away from being 7-1 with their only loss being to #1 Eden Prairie. Now they’re the scariest 4 seed in the bracket. Time to put on your Jason & Freddy masks and make some teams wish they’d had a different route.
Champlain Park’s season was right up their with Blaine’s as they had to take on two 1 seeds and two 2 seeds over the course of the season. “Did they win any of those games?” “Um yeah they did…against the defending champs Maple Grove.” You proved you can hang, now it’s time to make a habit of it.
3. Anoka vs 6. East Ridge
Anoka should channel their inner Miami Dolphins or inner Han Solos, whatever one’s easier because they need every game to be a shootout. They only won 1 game all year when they didn’t score at least 30 points. They have to hit that number every single game from here on out.
If I’m an East Ridge Raptor, I’m thinking similar vibes as Anoka. They lost 3 games this year when they scored 29 points or more. If you want a chance to win, these football games are going to need to turn into track meets.
2. Minnetonka vs. 7. Eastview
In order to be a big dawg, you gotta beat one. Minnetonka lost both of its games against Eden Prairie and Maple Grove this season. Fortunately, it’s hard to beat a good team twice, so when that chance comes again, you gotta be ready to go.
When things were looking cloudy for Eastview this season, they often didn’t show up. When things were looking bright, they won at average of 34 to 8. Instead of letting it become a dreary day, the lightning need to turn games into a storm for their opponents.
Upper Right Section of the Minnesota 6A Football Playoffs:
1. Eden Prairie vs 8. Osseo
Knowing you’re the team to beat can be good and bad. On one hand, you haven’t played a game where anyone’s been within 2 TDs. Keep it that way, and it could be a perfect season. On the other hand, there hasn’t been much adversity to overcome. You need to know how you will respond to adversity before you need to.
Even though it was a loss, Osseo’s coming off their best game of the season. Keep that momentum because it’s time to try anything and everything to survive another week. Again, there’s 48 guaranteed minutes left, might as well go all out.
4. Eagan vs 5. White Bear Lake
Eagan can proudly say they never played a bad team all season. That sets them up well for the 6A playoffs where you only face good teams. If they want to be one of those good teams, the offense that dropped those 40 and 45 point efforts in big wins needs to be present.
Football’s a momentum game. If a team’s up 21-0 before throwing a pick 6 to end the half, they’re not the ones celebrating in the locker-room at halftime. The Bears have to keep the momentum snowballing from their back to back wins to end the season.
3. Forest Lake vs 6. Wayzata
Champion squads control clock and play defense. Only 2 teams scored more than 20 points against Forest Lake all year. It needs to stay at that number if they’re going to make a serious run at it.
Wayzata gets to have some fun in the playoffs. One of the hardest regular season schedules didn’t go the way they wanted. Only one of those losses was by more than 2 TDs and 3 of them were by 4 points or less. If a play or two goes Wayzata’s way, they could have a chance to make some noise.
2. Lakeville North vs 7. Coon Rapids
Lakeville North should feel good about themselves. They were one 4th down stop and fumbled snap away from being a perfect 8-0 on the year. It’s time to prove that was a fluke because all the teams they face from here on out will absolutely capitalize on mistakes like those.
Coon Rapids is another team that showed they can score all year long. A 27-33 loss versus Anoka proves that. Either a little flame gets lit under the defense or that offensive flame turns into a full blown fire. Then maybe that close loss can turn into a win during the playoffs.
Lower Right Section of the Minnesota 6A Football Playoffs:
1. Stillwater vs 8. Hopkins
Stillwater’s a team who’s had no shortage of adversity this year. 5 of their 8 games were within one score and both of their losses came against their best opponents. Teams love to be battle tested going into the playoffs. They just have to be certain they aren’t the 22’ Vikings where one of those few 1-score losses comes at the wrong time.
It’s fun to let teams have one more shot isn’t it? Hopkins has nothing left to lose, their back’s up against the wall, and they get one more chance to throw everything you have at it. What’s not to love?
4. STMA vs 5. Rochester Mayo
STMA hasn’t lost in over a month. Talk about being on a freakin’ heater. They’ve also won some blowouts as well as a couple nail-biters. It’s great to be versatile in the playoffs because you never know what’s going to happen. Keep riding the wave and absorbing the punches. It’s a recipe for success.
When your first year in 6A includes dates with Lakeville North, Lakeville South, Rosemount, and Eden Prairie, that’s no joke. Now they get to take a 2+ hour trip across the metro to play in their first 6A playoff game. If I’m Mayo, I’m using that chip on my shoulder to bring as much intensity as I can.
3. Edina vs 6. Farmington
The sun would be one of the few things left that’s still hotter than Edina’s 2nd half of the season. When your last loss came over a month ago, you have a lot of things going right. Before they get too excited, two of their losses came against the two best teams they played. That can’t happen in the playoffs.
Farmington’s season story looks a lot like Edina’s. They beat up on teams they should to end the season after having a rough go against the stronger teams to start. Remember momentum is a friend that you need to bring to every game, especially when your offense is averaging 49ppg over the last 3 contests.
2. Maple Grove vs 7. Park Cottage Grove
Maple Grove gets to continue as one of the scariest teams in the bracket. Their two losses came by a combined two points. Literally two plays go differently in those games, and they might just be 8-0. Those facts combined with the will to repeat is nightmare fuel for opponents if you ask me.
Park Cottage Grove needs the mentality of great defense wins championships, but you can’t win if you don’t score. They know they can score, so that needs to be the focus every-time they touch the ball. When it’s win or go home, all the stops get to come out.
Now, Let’s Play Some Football
The Friday night lights of Minnesota 6A football playoffs are back and better than ever. Whichever team decides they’re going 5-0 over these next weeks will find themselves at the top of the pedestal. Every city, team, and player gets at least a sliver of a chance to make some magic happen. It’s going to be so fun to see who actually does something with it.
I’m just the ugly stepson of the 10K family. Part Minnesotan, Part Wisconsinite. Half best friend, half mortal enemy. Can’t live with me, can’t live without me.