CIRCLE THESE GAMES

Staff writers David La Vaque and Jim Paulsen pored over the schedule and came up with a must-see game each week.

WEEK 1

Thursday, Aug. 31 St. Michael-Albertville at Mounds View, 7 p.m.

The visiting Knights are new to Class 6A this fall while the host Mustangs welcome rookie head coach Aaron Moberg.

WEEK 2

Friday, Sept 8 Lakeville North at Eden Prairie, 7 p.m.

The Nos. 1 and 2 teams in the metro rankings meet in an early-season donnybrook. This one sells itself.

WEEK 3

Friday, Sept. 15 Spring Lake Park at Cooper, 7 p.m.

Contrasting styles collide. Spring Lake Park, Class 5A runner-up last fall, grinds out yards via its option offense. The Hawks, meanwhile, rely on special athletes to produce big plays.

WEEK 4

Friday, Sept 22

Lakeville South at Lakeville North, 7 p.m.

The Battle of Lakeville, with the Big Cat Trophy at stake, becomes even more interesting with both coaches — South's Tyler Krebs and North's Brian Vossen — being grads of Lakeville High before a second school opened in the suburb.

WEEK 5

Thursday, Sept. 28 St. Paul Highland Park vs. SMB Wolfpack, at Blake, 7 p.m.

Two of the state's most talented, and underappreciated, football stars square off. Jalen Suggs quarterbacks SMB (St. Paul Academy/Minnehaha Academy/Blake) while the Scots' Josh Aune stands out at running back and linebacker.

WEEK 6

Friday, Oct. 6 Elk River at Rogers, 7 p.m.

Now that St. Michael-Albertville has left for Class 6A, what had been a yearly trio of big games between nearby rivals is down to just one. Expect an overflow crowd.

WEEK 7

Friday, Oct. 13 Totino-Grace at Blaine, 7 p.m.

Rematch of their spirited Class 6A state tournament semifinal. The Bengals will demand a full-night's work from defending champion Totino-Grace.

WEEK 8

Wednesday, Oct. 18 Eden Prairie at Edina, 7 p.m.

By the time this game rolls around, we'll have a much better handle on each team's relative strength.