Nov. 7—Seven southeastern Minnesota teams have advanced to the high school football state tournaments, which begin Thursday across the state.
Two local teams meet in a state quarterfinal — Cannon Falls and Triton.
Here's a quick look at the six state quarterfinal games involving local teams:
The matchup: Byron (Section 1) vs. Hill Murray (Section 3), 6 p.m. Thursday, at Eastview High School, Apple Valley.
About Byron: The Bears are 9-1 overall, ranked No. 9 in the state and have won four in a row. ... The Bears avenged their lone loss this season in the Section 1-4A championship game, beating Kasson-Mantorville 17-14 on a late 35-yard Kale Robinson-to-Jackson Schnell TD. ... Bears running back Adam Glynn is a University of Sioux Falls commit, while defensive end Zach Vanderpool is committed to Division I North Dakota State. ... The Bears average 36.1 points per game (fifth in the state in Class 4A) and allow 7.9 ppg (second-best in Class 4A). ... Byron is at state for the fourth time in program history (1986, 1990, 2003).
About Hill Murray: The No. 10-ranked Pioneers are 8-2 overall and on an eight-game winning streak since starting the season 0-2, with losses against Section 8-4A power Becker and Section 4-2A finalist St. Agnes. ... Hill Murray averages 39.3 points per game, second-best in Class 4A, behind only section rival Chisago Lakes (39.6). ... The Pioneers are at state for the fifth time in program history and the first since 2012.
Up next: The winner advances to the state semifinals, where it will face either Section 6 champion Orono or Section 8 champion Rocori, at 4 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 16, at U.S. Bank Stadium.
The matchup: Stewartville (Section 1) vs. Waseca (Section 3), 7 p.m. Saturday, at Hastings High School.
About Stewartville: The No. 1-ranked and unbeaten Tigers (11-0) have the best defense in the state in Class 3A (5.1 points allowed per game) and the second-best offense (44.5 ppg) behind only Section 7 champ Esko (54.9 ppg). ... Stewartville relies on its depth to overmatch opponents. Tigers QB Ayden Helder has been outstanding this season, throwing for 35 touchdowns and one interception. Parker Wangen, Henry Tschetter, Blake Turner and Carter Miller all have more than 350 receiving yards. ... The Tigers are at state for the seventh time ever and the second consecutive season. ... Senior DB Tegan Malone had three interceptions in the section championship game against Rochester Lourdes.
About Waseca: The Bluejays have been hit by injuries this fall, losing two of their top players. They lost to Stewartville in the season opener for both teams, 27-13 on Sept. 1. It's the closest any team has come to beating the Tigers this fall. ... Waseca is making its fourth trip to a state tournament (2009, 2018, 2019). ... Its defense has recorded five shutouts this fall, including four in a row over the final three weeks of the regular season and the Section 3-4A quarterfinals. ... Waseca beat Fairmont 21-13 in OT in the Section 3 title game. Senior DB Laird Keeton had an interception return for a TD, senior RB Jose Mixteco scored a 10-yard TD in OT and senior lineman Ethan Stenzel made a fourth-down tackle to end the game.
Up next: The winner advances to the state semifinals, where it will face either Section 8 champion Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton or Section 6 champion Albany, at 2 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 18, at U.S. Bank Stadium.
The matchup: Caledonia (Section 1) vs. Jackson Co. Central (Section 3), 7 p.m. Thursday, at Mayo High School.
About Caledonia: The No. 2-ranked Warriors are 10-0. ... They average 38.5 points per game (fourth-best in the state in Class 2A) and allow 7.4 points per game (third-best in Class 2A). ... QB Ethan Stendel has passed for 1,431 yards and 12 touchdowns, while Owen Denstad leads the team in rushing (97 carries, 649 yards, 15 TDs). Joshua Beardmore leads a balanced receiving corps (18 rec., 408 yards, 4 TDs). ... The Warriors are at state for the 16th time in program history and the first since 2019. ... Caledonia has played in the state championship game 13 times and has won 11 championships, including five in a row from 2015-19.
About Jackson Co. Central: The No. 4-ranked Huskies are 10-0, average 38.7 points per game (third-best in Class 2A) and allow 7.3 per game (second-best in 2A). ... Jackson Co. Central has recorded three shutouts this season. ... The Huskies won their two Section 3-2A playoff games by an average score of 46.5-10. ... This is the 10th state tournament appearance for JCC (1997, 1998, 2001, 2012, 2013, 2015, 2016, 2019, 2022, 2023). It has been to four state championship games and won its only title in 2001.
Up next: The winner advances to the state semifinals, where it will face either Section 6 champion Osakis or Section 8 champion Barnesville, at 9 a.m. Friday, Nov. 17, at U.S. Bank Stadium.
------The matchup: Triton (Section 2) vs. Cannon Falls (Section 4), 7 p.m. Thursday, at New Prague High School.
About Triton: The Cobras are in the same district (South) and sub-district (East-White) as their state quarterfinal opponent, Cannon Falls. ... Triton (6-5 overall) has played one of the toughest schedules in the state in Class 2A, having faced two other state tournament qualifiers, including Cannon Falls and Section 1 champ Caledonia. ... This is the 10th overall trip to a state tournament for Triton and its first since 2010, when it finished as the Class 2A runner-up. Triton won state titles in 1994, 2000 and 2006.
About Cannon Falls: The Bombers (9-2), like Triton, played a challenging regular-season schedule, which benefited them in the Section 4-2A playoffs. Cannon Falls' only losses came against No. 2-ranked Caledonia and last year's Section 1-2A champion Chatfield. ... The Bombers are an explosive, run-heavy team, averaging 47.7 points per game, the best mark in the state in Class 2A. ... They allow 21.8 points per game. ... This is the fifth trip to state for the Bombers and the fourth in six seasons.
Up next: The winner advances to the state semifinals, where it will face either Section 7 champion Moose Lake/Willow River or Section 5 champion Eden Valley-Watkins, at 11:30 a.m. Friday, Nov. 17, at U.S. Bank Stadium.
The matchup: Fillmore Central (Section 1) vs. Springfield (Section 3), 5:30 p.m. Friday, at Jordan High School.
About Fillmore Central: The No. 2-ranked Falcons (11-0) are led by one of the best athletes in the area and in Section 1-1A, 6-foot-3, 175-pound senior receiver/defensive back Jayce Kiehne, who has received some Division I interest. ... Kiehne scored both of the touchdowns in the Section 1-1A championship game, when the Falcons beat Kenyon-Wanamingo 14-0. He scored on an 87-yard run in the first quarter and on a 15-yard pass reception from Chase Christianson in the second quarter. ... The Falcons' 7.7 points allowed per game average is the best in the state in Class 1A. They are one of just three teams in the Class that allow fewer than 10 ppg. ... The Falcons are at state for a second straight year and just the second time ever as Fillmore Central. Harmony went to state six times, including a Class C championship in 1984. Preston went to state once, in 1972, when it was the Class C runner-up.
About Springfield: The Section 3-1A champs are 10-1 overall and ranked No. 7 in the state. ... The Tigers' lone loss came by two points, 16-14, at Sleepy Eye United on Sept. 29, a loss they avenged in the section championship game. They won that game 36-18. ... The Tigers use a running back tandem with good size. Sam Rummel, a 6-1, 210-pound senior, ran for 147 yards in the section title game, while 6-3, 225-pound senior Ashton Toll rushed for 48 yards and two touchdowns. ... Senior QB Jacob Nachreiner is a stellar passer, too. He threw for 185 yards and three TDs in the section final. ... Springfield averages 41.4 points per game and allows 13.4.
Up next: The winner advances to the state semifinals, where it will face either Section 8 champion Mahnomen/Waubun or Section 6 champion Parkers Prairie, at 9 a.m., Saturday, Nov. 18, at U.S. Bank Stadium.
The matchup: Kingsland (Section 1) vs. Hills-Beaver Creek (Section 3), 7 p.m. Thursday, at Albert Lea High School.
About Kingsland: The Knights have been lethal with the passing game — led by soph. QB Kaaleem Reiland and 6-2, 165-pound senior receiver Ayden Howard — and the run game, led by 5-9, 200-pound senior Beau Wiersma and Reiland. ... The No. 5-ranked Knights are 11-0 and average 50.9 points per game, the second-best mark in 9-Player in the state, only narrowly behind Section 7 champ Mountain Iron-Buhl (51.0). ... Kingsland has been to state three times and has reached the Prep Bowl all three times — 1995 (Class B state champion), 2002 (Class 2A champion) and 2003 (Class 2A runner-up).
About Hills-Beaver Creek: No. 7-ranked Hills-BC is 10-0 overall, averages 31.0 points per game and allows 10.1 points per game. ... Hills and Beaver Creek are located just a few miles from the South Dakota and Iowa borders in extreme southwestern Minnesota, just 20 miles east of Sioux Falls, S.D. ... Defense has been a strong suit for H-BC this fall. It has allowed more than 18 points in a game just once, and it surrendered a total of eight points in its two section playoff victories. ... H-BC is in the state tournament for the first time since 2001.
Up next: The winner advances to the state semifinals, where it will face either Section 6 champion Fertile-Beltrami or Section 8 champion Goodridge/Grygla-Gatzke at 10:30 a.m., Thursday, Nov. 16, at U.S. Bank Stadium.