Metro Football Top 10

This being the final Metro Top 10 of the season — rankings become irrelevant once playoffs begin — it’s a good time to reflect to see how the preseason rankings stack up against what actually occurred.

I had Eden Prairie No. 1. That’s a gimme. Maple Grove was No. 2 and the Crimson, which stumbled against Osseo in the opener and gave Eden Prairie its tightest game of the year, is peaking now. That selection is looking better than it did a month ago. Osseo was No. 3 in the preseason, but a midseason slump, largely due to injuries, knocked it out of the metro rankings. Totino-Grace at No. 4 and Prior Lake at No. 5 still seem reasonable. The run-heavy Eagles are set up for post­season success while the Lakers’ three losses have been to Wayzata, Eden Prairie and Maple Grove.

I missed badly on the Nos. 6, 7 and 8 teams in the preseason rankings, where I had Mounds View, Edina and Lakeville South. Much of that was due to the respect I have for three of the metro’s top coaches (Mounds View’s Jim Galvin, Edina’s Reed Boltman and Lakeville South’s Larry Thompson) and their bodies of work. But coaches don’t throw the passes, make the tackles or score the touchdowns. Lesson learned.

I bounced back with the final two teams in the preseason rankings, No. 9 East Ridge and No. 10 Burnsville. The Raptors put aside the tumult surrounding the program in the offseason and built a solid résumé, losing only to Lakeville North in the season opener. The Blaze was unfazed by the pressure of expectations and won seven of eight games, its most since 2006.

My biggest regret was not acknowledging the enduring quality of the programs at Lakeville North, Rosemount and Wayzata. The first two suffered huge losses to graduation and I expected a bit of backsliding, yet instead they were able to fill those voids impressively. Wayzata shook off a three-win 2014 campaign and went back to being the efficient Trojans of year past, losing only to Maple Grove and Eden Prairie.

Finally, there’s Woodbury, whose 6-2 record was the biggest surprise in Class 6A. I didn’t see that coming. Kudos to coach Andy Hill and the Royals, who weren’t dominant but consistently found ways to win.

 

FINAL METRO TOP 10

1. Eden Prairie (8-0)

2. Maple Grove (6-2)

3. (tie) Lakeville North (7-1)

3. (tie) Burnsville (7-1)

3. (tie) Rosemount (7-1)

6. East Ridge (7-1)

7. Totino-Grace (6-2)

8. Wayzata (6-2)

9. Woodbury (6-2)

10. Spring Lake Park (8-0, 5A)

JIM PAULSEN