St. Michael-Albertville (7-0) at Rogers (7-0), 7 p.m.
If the goal of scheduling is to build to a climactic finish, then the Mississippi 8 Conference nailed it. Two undefeated teams meeting for the title on the final night of the regular season shows a definite flair for the dramatic.
With booming youth football numbers, Rogers is looking like a program that will be good for a long time. The Royals feed off a big-play running game that has put up more than 2,000 yards this season, led by junior Gunnar Bloom. But the passing game is also an option as QB Connor Henderson has thrown for 627 yards. If there is a weakness, it’s Rogers’ recent penchant for starting slow. The Royals trailed St. Francis 12-0 and Big Lake 10-0 before rallying for convincing victories.
St. Michael-Albertville has leaned on its defense, giving up less than 200 total yards per game and holding five of its seven opponents under 10 points. Statistically, the Knights are equal with Rogers in terms of yards gained but have not scored at quite the rate of the Royals. Running back Chris Kartes has been remarkably consistent, rushing for less than 98 yards just once en route to a team-high 726 yards.
David says: St. Michael-Albertville takes the lead in a tough Mississippi 8 Conference. St. Michael-Albertville 21, Rogers 20.
Jim says: Rogers’ big-play ability will be the difference. Rogers 33, St. Michael-Albertville 21.
Roseville (6-1) at Mounds View (5-2), 7 p.m.
Roseville is enjoying its best season since going 8-4 and reaching the state tournament in 2006. A victory Wednesday gives Roseville at least a share of its first Suburban East Conference title ever.
Senior quarterback Jacques Perra and other talented athletes earned Roseville respect from conference opponents, Mounds View coach Jim Galvin included. What really makes the Raiders tough, Galvin said, is being “good up front on both sides of the ball.”
Perra’s 1,755 yards passing and 20 touchdowns lead the SEC. He has completed almost 60 percent of his passes while throwing just three interceptions. The team’s turnover ratio is a solid plus-10.
Junior receiver Jesper Horstad leads the conference with 787 yards and 11 touchdowns. His 38 receptions average 20.7 yards.
The Mustangs’ offense, despite relying on some undersized linemen, has executed the run-heavy wing-T scheme. Mounds View leads the conference with 1,747 rushing yards and backs Matt Hunt and Sola Olateju have combined for 12 touchdowns and more than 1,300 yards.
However, Galvin said, “our defense hasn’t lived up to expectations.” Mounds View ranks an uncharacteristic fifth in the conference against both the run and pass. Success against Roseville and in the approaching playoffs, Galvin said, requires “getting pressure and intercepting a pass or two.” Galvin is going for career victory No. 100 on Wednesday.
David says: Roseville wins a battle of teams with contrasting styles. Roseville 28, Mounds View 17.
Jim says: Expect Mounds View to be in a surly mood after an unexpected loss to White Bear Lake. Mounds View 31, Roseville 21.