Perennial favorite Eden Prairie? Check. Defending Class 5A state champion Wayzata? Check. Three other schools many believe could give those teams a run for their money? Check, check and check. Without question, the state's toughest conference again lies right here.

EDEN PRAIRIE EAGLES

Coach: Mike Grant. 2010 record: 9-2.

• The Eagles will be dangerous on the ground. Running back Andrew Larson is among the area's best, returning for his senior season after gaining 1,700 yards last fall. He will get some nice holes from a beefed-up offensive line that now includes 6-7, 310-pound Daniel Urquhart, who transferred from Texas, and 6-6, 275-pound Division I recruit Nick Davidson, the son of Vikings offensive line coach Jeff Davidson.

EDINA HORNETS

Coach: Reed Boltmann. 2010 record: 4-5.

• The Hornets are stacked top to bottom with returning starters. The talented group includes Gophers recruit Nick Rallis on both sides of the ball. The 6-foot, 210-pounder rushed, passed, caught and tackled last season. He is one of at least eight Edina players with two years of experience as a starter.

HOPKINS ROYALS

Coach: John DenHartog. 2010 record: 7-4.

• Expect senior wideout Andre McDonald to show why he has received a handful of Big Ten scholarship offers. He is part of a speedy Royals team that also includes loads of experience at defensive back and linebacker. If that speed turns into victories, another trip to the section championship game is a real possibility.

MINNETONKA SKIPPERS

Coach: Dave Nelson. 2010 record: 5-5.

• Though the Skippers lost a lot on the offensive and defensive lines from a year ago, familiar faces return at other positions on both sides of the ball. The five returners on offense are at quarterback, running back and wide receiver, while the defense is bolstered by free safety Charles Webb (110 tackles, four fumble recoveries as a junior).

WAYZATA TROJANS

Coach: Brad Anderson.

2010 record: 11-0 (Class 5A state champions).

• Longtime defensive coordinator Matt Lombardi left for the top job at Maple Grove, but his products are still at Wayzata. Even with six starters gone, the Trojans again will be strong on D, with experience on the line, at linebacker and in the secondary. Look for RB Antonio Ford to make a splash on offense running behind fellow D-I recruit Ben Lauer.

JIM PAULSEN

PREDICTION

1. Eden Prairie

2. Wayzata

3. Minnetonka

4. Hopkins

5. Edina