1 St. Michael-Albertville’s first big step toward the Prep Bowl started with a convincing Sept. 3 victory against rival Rogers. Senior receiver Isaiah Weston, a 6-4 speedster, seized the moment. He turned a 3-yard hitch route into a 60-yard end-zone dash. He added a 90-yard reception and drew double coverage to give running back Eric Sjelin room downfield for a 94-yard touchdown.
2 Earth, Wind and Fire weren’t the only ones dancing in September. Everything that made Eden Prairie senior JD Spielman great showed against Maple Grove. He scored on punt and kickoff returns and a 25-yard run. He intercepted a pass in the end zone. His best moment — eluding eight tacklers on a 44-yard run before finally getting caught.
3 The Twitter handle @amaniball belongs to Park Center senior Amani Hooker. Users of the social media site used it in earnest, casting their Mr. Football vote as Hooker piled up six touchdowns in a playoff game at Cooper. Perhaps the state’s most special individual performance this fall featured three touchdown receptions, two scoring runs and an interception for six points.
4 With its quarterback hobbled in the first Class 6A playoff round, Edina needed players to step up. Cue Adam Holm. Though a known playmaker, Holm’s performance still made you take notice. He caught a 44-yard touchdown pass then iced the game with a 58-yard interception return for a score. He added a second interception on the game’s final play.
5 They call him Prince, but when it comes to clutch playoff performances, Osseo’s Mr. Kruah is king. Carry No. 43 — one shy of tying the Prep Bowl record — went 4 yards to tie the championship game. The extra point solidified the first state champion in program history. Kruah totaled 1,089 yards and 11 touchdowns in five playoff games.
DAVID LA VAQUE
1 Minneapolis North’s season-opening victory over Minneapolis Washburn was more like a picnic than football game. Fans drifted in and out, smoke from a concession stand grill wafted through the field, passers-by stopped to watch. Exactly what a football game should be.
2 The season opener between Eden Prairie and Totino-Grace was delayed more than 90 minutes by thunderstorms with the teams tied 14-14 at halftime. When the game finally restarted, the momentum Totino-Grace had built had dissipated. Eden Prairie scored on its first play from scrimmage and went on to win 38-20, setting up a memorable rematch
3 Few saw Totino-Grace’s 27-13 upset victory over Eden Prairie in the Class 6A quarterfinals coming, particularly since Eden Prairie had won five previous meetings. In retrospect, that familiarity played a role in the Totino-Grace victory. Part of Eden Prairie’s success is its reputation, but Totino-Grace knew what to expect from its opponent. The Eagles’ victory was no fluke; they outhit and outplayed Eden Prairie on both sides of the ball.
4 One week later, Osseo trailed Totino-Grace 21-7 with eight minutes left in the fourth quarter. The Orioles rallied and, trailing 21-14, pulled off my favorite play of the season. Tight end Nash Jensen, a 6-4, 320-pound converted offensive tackle, caught a pass and rumbled for a 43-yard gain. Osseo scored five plays later and added a game-winning two point conversion in a 22-21 victory.
5 Could it be anything but the Class 6A final? Osseo, which lost three consecutive games during the regular season, finished a heart-stopping state tournament run with a 14-13 victory over East Ridge. Osseo’s total margin of victory for its three state tournament victories was just five points. The largest was a three-point, 24-21 victory over Lakeville North in the quarterfinals.