Get to Know the Field for the 5A State Football Tournament
Owatonna is back at the state tournament, along with five others from last year's field of teams. The Huskies beat Apple Valley before losing to eventual state champ Elk River is 2016. The Eagles and Elks are back. Mankato West, a state semifinalist last year, draws Apple Valley in Saturday's quarterfinal. Andover also returns and faces the Elks on Friday.
St. Louis Park, in their first-ever state tournament, will face Brainerd and Minnesota's all-time winningest coach Ron Stolski in a Saturday quarterfinal. OHS opens with Mahtomeda Saturday at 6PM at Lakeville North High School on KRFO AM 1390. The Zephyrs lost to Mankato West in the 2016 quarterfinals.
Owatonna coach Jeff Williams says Mahtomedi (9-1) prefers to run the ball.
The Zephyrs are not explosive. They average 227 yards rushing per game and 104 passing for a total of 331 yards per game to go along with 29 points. Their feature running back is Brandon Anderson, a 5-10, 160-pound senior. He has 1,473 yards and rushed for over 200 yards and four touchdowns in the Zephyrs' section semifinal win.
Mahtomedi's only loss came 27-13 to South St. Paul, who qualified for the AAAA state tournament. The Zephyrs have one shutout on the season, coming in the section final to Tartan 14-0. Mahtomedi has forced 23 turnovers with 12 interceptions and 11 fumble recoveries, while losing the ball just six times.
Owatonna (9-1) is evenly split on offense with 244 yards per game on the ground and 242 through the air, for a total of 487 yards and 48 points per contest. Jason Williamson has 1,710 yards and 25 rushing touchdowns. Abe Havelka has 2,353 yards passing and 33 scores. Noah Budach has 53 receptions for 898 yards and 15 touchdowns.
In the other quarterfinals, St. Louis Park (7-3) started the season 2-3 but has won their last five and upset Robbinsdale Cooper 13-12 in the section final, a team they lost to early in the season. Their opponent, Brainerd (8-2), is in their tenth state appearance. They lost to Owatonna in the 2013 Prep Bowl final.
Mankato West (10-1) relies on running more than passing. They have held opponents to less than 200 yards offense per game. The Scarlets' only loss came to Winona, who is the AAAA state tournament. Apple Valley (9-1) is at state for the fourth time in the last six years. The Eagles have played in the Prep Bowl five times, winning titles in 1986 and 1993.
Defending champ Elk River (9-1) is up to their usual tricks of running the ball with deception and effectiveness. The Elks average 438 yards on the ground per game, and have completed 12 passes on the season. Amazingly, four of those have gone for touchdowns. Andover (8-2) has an even split on offense with a running back at nearly 1,400 yards and their quarterback has thrown for over 2,000 yards.
Class 5A schedule
Friday, November 10
Elk River vs Andover at Mounds View High School, 7PM
Saturday, November 11
Owatonna vs Mahtomedi at Lakeville North High School, 6PM
St. Louis Park vs Brainerd at St. Cloud State University, 6PM
Mankato West vs Apple Valley at Shakopee High School, 6PM
Semifinals at U.S. Bank Stadium
Friday, November 17, 2PM
Mankato West/Apple Valley winner vs Elk River/Andover winner
Saturday, November 18, 7PM
Owatonna/Mahtomedi winner vs St. Louis Park/Brainerd winner
Prep Bowl final
Saturday, November 25 at U.S. Bank Stadium, 4PM