1Keeping Hart healthy: For all of the talent DeLaSalle has, the Islanders found out the hard way in 2013 that one key injury can derail a season. Their Class 4A state title dreams went poof when QB Billy Hart, the team’s soul, was injured early in the state semifinals loss to Holy Angels. He returned in the second half, but by that time the deficit was too great for the banged-up Hart to repair. DeLaSalle has titles hopes again, but only if Hart stays healthy.


2Substance over style: St. Croix Lutheran doesn’t run a sexy offense, but it works the veer to perfection. Perennial powers Glencoe-Silver Lake and New London-Spicer learned just how effective it is, giving up a total of 86 points in two state tournament games as the Crusaders ran their way to the Class 3A title. St. Croix’s option offense is kind of like the old Green Bay sweep. You know it’s coming but not how to stop it.


3 Newbies: The addition of Holy Angels, which made it to the Class 4A title game last year, Fridley and Columbia Heights in place of the five teams that left to form the IMAC may actually make the Tri-Metro stronger. Those three teams had a combined .576 winning percentage in 2013; the teams that left had .531.