Staff writers David La Vaque and Jim Paulsen came up with a list of games to circle on your prep football calendars. Some are matchups of top teams, others provide intrigue for different reasons.
Week 1: Minneapolis North (above) at St. Paul Johnson. The Polars are 46-3 in the past four seasons and won the 2016 Prep Bowl. The Governors reached the state tournament semifinals last season. No other city-school matchup offers two teams with these credentials.
Week 2: Elk River at Buffalo. Last year these teams combined for 1,334 total yards and set a state record for combined points in an 80-70 Elk River victory.
Week 3: Lakeville North at Rosemount. These south-metro powers are meeting for the first time since 2016. Let's not allow another such lapse.
Week 4: Eagan at Anoka. Programs with just two wins between them over the past two seasons are energized by new head coaches. Any chance at success means a little more when it's been scarce.
Week 5: Caledonia at Rochester Lourdes (above). Caledonia, on a 44-game winning streak, has won four consecutive Class 2A titles. Rochester Lourdes has won two of the past three Class 3A crowns and was 14-0 last year. The small-school game of the season.
Week 5: A rare Saturday night game features Rochester Mayo and Mankato West at the Vikings' TCO Stadium in Eagan, the first regular season non-metro matchup there.
Week 7: Totino-Grace (above) at Champlin Park. By then we should know which team is for real. Chances are good both of them will be.
Week 8: St. Thomas Academy at Chaska. This looks like the toughest game of the season for St. Thomas Academy, the 2018 Class 5A runner-up. But defeating rough and tough Chaska at home is a big order.