About 500 former Prep Bowl players and coaches are expected to attend an alumni celebration being held Friday in connection with the Class 6A game.

All players and coaches who participated in the football state tournament from 1972, when the league began sponsoring the tournament, through last year were invited to attend the game. Those in attendance will receive a commemorative Prep Bowl tag and will be seated together. Prep Bowl record-holders and championship-winning coaches will be honored at halftime.

Four former Minnesota high school football players — Darrell Thompson, Marcus Sherels, Matt Birk and Isaac Fruechte — are serving as honorary chairmen.

Southeast hotbed

Section 1 in southeastern Minnesota has long been a hotbed for football, and the Prep Bowl is further evidence of that. It boasts five teams in championship games: Grand Meadow (Nine-man), Rushford-Peterson (1A), Caledonia (2A), Rochester Lourdes (3A) and Winona (4A).

North suburban neighbors

Three of the four teams in the two largest classes — Totino-Grace, Spring Lake Park and Elk River — compete against each other in all other sports in the Northwest Suburban Conference.

Repping the city

Minneapolis North will make its second consecutive Prep Bowl appearance when it plays Rushford-Peterson in Saturday’s Class 1A championship game. The Polars are the only school from either the Minneapolis or St. Paul City conferences to play in the Prep Bowl, which began in 1982. The only other championship-game appearances from either city conference belong to Minneapolis Washburn, which won Class AA championships in 1972 and 1977, and St. Paul Harding, which played in the 1973 AA final.

Religion Bowl

The Class 3A championship on Saturday features a rare matchup of denomination-based schools, with Catholic-based Rochester Lourdes playing St. Croix Lutheran from West St. Paul.

From one to 50

The Nine-man championship at 10 a.m. Friday pits Cleveland, making its first appearance in a Prep Bowl, against Grand Meadow, seeking its fourth consecutive title and 50th victory without a loss.

Longest haul

Defending Class 2A champion Caledonia and its fans take Prep Bowl bragging rights for having the longest bus ride — about 160 miles — from their school to U.S. Bank Stadium.