This is a conference that prides itself on hard-hitting defense. The Missota champion will again be determined by who wins the battle in the trenches, and defending champion Farmington appears to have the upper hand. Hutchinson and New Prague have the best shot to unseat the Tigers as league champion, and both will benefit by playing Farmington at home.
(In predicted order of finish)
Coach: Mark Froehling, eighth year
The lowdown: Farmington hasn't lost a conference game in two years, and some think it won't lose again in 2007. It will have good team speed at the skill positions and has solid returning starters at a variety of positions, including special teams.
Coach: Andy Rostberg, ninth year
The lowdown: Don't expect the Tigers to go to the air very often. They return their two leading rushers in seniors Corey Shufelt and Brian Renkes.
New Prague Trojans
Coach: Tony Buthe, 12th year
The lowdown: Buthe is hoping to lead his squad on a third consecutive state tournament trip. New Prague will be young and inexperienced after being hit hard by graduation. Two-way senior starters WR/DE Brad Weiers (6-6, 220) and RB/LB Nick Zweber (5-11, 200) will have to provide leadership.
Holy Angels Stars
Coach: Mike Smalley, third year
The lowdown: As the offensive line improves, so will the Stars. They will have four rookie linemen who will have to mature quickly. It will be just the opposite on defense, where they will have a veteran group. Senior DE Brendan Kelly (6-6, 234), a Gophers recruit, will head the charge.
Prior Lake Lakers
Coach: Matt Gegenheimer, second year
The lowdown: Gegenheimer's emphasis in his first year was defense, and it paid off. That will be the key again this season, as the Lakers have only seven returning starters.
Coach: Bubba Sullivan, 19th year
The lowdown: The Raiders lack experience, especially on offense, and that is not a good situation in this hard-nosed conference. Sullivan will count on his physical defensive unit, led by seniors Cory Callahan (6-2, 280, T) and Josh Samuels (6-3, 210, SS) and junior Cole Jirik (6-4, 210, TE).
Red Wing Wingers
Coach: Kevin Horvat, first year
The lowdown: A new coach and a change of philosophy are in place. The Wingers will try to control the ball with a punishing ground attack. The defensive unit will go from a 4-3 front to a 3-5 look.
Coach: Jody Stone, second year
The lowdown: The Sabers will look to improve their offensive attack after being shut out in more than half of their games last year.