Nov. 14—Twenty-eight high school football teams remain alive in their quest for state championships in Minnesota — four in each of seven classes.
Four of those state semifinalists come from southeastern Minnesota. Three other local teams were eliminated in last weekend's state quarterfinals.
Here's a quick look at the brackets those seven local teams are in, what happened last weekend and what to look for this week in the state semifinals, as everyone shifts to the home of the Minnesota Vikings, U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis.
What happened: Kale Robinson passed for a touchdown and ran for two, while standout senior running back Adam Glynn rolled up 256 yards and a TD on the ground for Section 1 champ Byron in a hard-fought 31-28 win against Hill-Murray. The Pioneers cut the score to 31-28 with 2:21 left, but the Bears ran out the clock.
Quotable: "We have the mindset that we're unbeatable." — Byron senior lineman Zach VanderPool, a North Dakota State University commit.
What's ahead: Byron will face Section 8 champion Rocori (9-2) in a state semifinal at 4 p.m. Thursday at U.S. Bank Stadium. Byron averages 9.7 points allowed per game, the second-best mark in the state in Class 4A. Rocori is the No. 1-ranked team in Class 4A's QRF rankings. ... Hutchinson (9-2), last year's state runner-up, faces North Branch (10-1) at 4:30 p.m. Friday in the other semifinal.
Prep Bowl: 4 p.m., Friday, Nov. 24.
What happened: No. 1-ranked Stewartville (12-0) recorded its sixth shutout of the season, blanking Waseca 22-0 in a state quarterfinal game Saturday night. Tigers QB Ayden Helder threw three touchdown passes — he now has 38 TD passes and just 2 interceptions this fall. Carter Miller, Caleb Bancroft and Henry Tschetter scored. Stewartville's "Gold Rush" defense held Waseca to 95 total yards.
Quotable: "We fly around from sideline to sideline all game and that's exactly how we prepare all week." — Stewartville defensive end Graysen Schneider.
What's ahead: Stewartville will face Section 8 champion Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton (10-1) in a state semifinal at 2 p.m. Saturday at U.S. Bank Stadium. Stewartville has the best defense in the state in Class 3A, allowing just 4.7 points per game. D-G-F's defense is the fourth-best in the state (7.0 ppg allowed). ... Dassel-Cokato (10-1) and Annandale (11-0) meet in the other semifinal, at 4:30 p.m. Saturday.
Prep Bowl: 1 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 25.
What happened: Cannon Falls' powerful run game overwhelmed Triton. The Bombers ran for 374 yards in a 51-6 state quarterfinal win. Dylan Banks had 142 yards rushing and two TDs for the Bombers, who earned their first-ever state tournament victory. Jayce Leonardo scored Triton's TD on a 28-yard pass from Pierce Petersohn. ... Jackson County Central ran for 333 yards in a 41-0 rout of Caledonia. JCC's Roman Voss carried 18 times for 136 yards and three TDs. Caledonia's season ends at 10-1.
Quotable: "We've been so close about four times ... so to finally break through in a big way, it's just an amazing feeling." — Cannon Falls coach Dan Meyers, on his program getting its first state tournament win.
What's ahead: Section 4 champ Cannon Falls (10-2) meets Section 5 champion Eden Valley-Watkins (11-0) at 11:30 a.m. Friday in a state semifinal game at U.S. Bank Stadium. Jackson County Central (11-0) faces Barnesville (12-0) at 9 a.m. Friday in the other semifinal.
Prep Bowl: 1 p.m., Friday, Nov. 24.
What happened: Fillmore Central ran into a stout defense, falling 22-12 to Springfield in a state quarterfinal game Friday night. The Falcons (11-1) led 12-8 at halftime, but couldn't generate any scoring in the second half. Chase Christianson threw two TD passes for Fillmore Central, one to Jayce Kiehne, the other to Greg Kennedy. Springfield improved to 11-1.
Quotable: "That's what football is supposed to be this time of year. ... Everyone you see is going to be a good football team. I'm just proud of how our kids responded and the fight that they put up." — Fillmore Central coach Chris Mensink.
What's ahead: Springfield faces Mahnomen/Waubun (11-0) at 9 a.m. Saturday in a state semifinal game. Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa (11-0) and Minneota (12-0) meet in the other semifinal, at 11:30 a.m. Saturday.
Prep Bowl: 10 a.m., Friday, Nov. 24.
What happened: Beau Wiersma scored three touchdowns and Kaaleem Reiland intercepted two passes to help Kingsland (12-0) hold off Hills-Beaver Creek in a state quarterfinal game Thursday at Albert Lea, 26-14. Reiland passed for 139 yards and rushed for 54, while Wiersma ran for 74 and had 32 receiving yards. It's the first state tournament game and victory for the Knights since 2003. H-BC finished its season 10-1.
Quotable: "It's everything, inspiring the younger kids to be able to do what they want to do, especially from a small school like us, it's great." — Kingsland senior WR/DB Ayden Howard.
What's ahead: Kingsland faces Section 6 champ Fertile-Beltrami (12-0) at 10:30 a.m. Thursday in a state semifinal at U.S. Bank Stadium. Kingsland's 48.8 points per game average is second in the state in 9-Player only to Cherry (48.9), which lost in the Section 7 championship game. Fertile-Beltrami isn't far behind, averaging 46.9 ppg. It won its state quarterfinal game 35-6 against Goodridge/Grygla. ... Ottertail Central (11-0) and Nevis (11-0) meet in the other semifinal at 1 p.m. Thursday.
Prep Bowl: 10 a.m., Saturday, Nov. 25.