St. Michael-Albertville coach Jared Essler spoke in measured tones following a 12-7 homecoming loss to Totino-Grace on Friday.
The Eagles had knocked the Knights off the ever-shortening list of undefeated teams, but that wasn’t what was bothered Essler. He’s been through disappointing losses before.
What was weighing on Essler was the fate of his star running back/safety, Mitch Kartes, who injured a knee making a tackle in the third quarter and spent the remainder of the game on the bench.
“We’ll keep our fingers crossed,” Essler said after the game, hoping for good news about Kartes’ knee.
The news was anything but good. An MRI revealed a torn ACL and lateral meniscus in his knee, ending Kartes’ season.
• Friday’s results left a logjam of highly regarded Class 6A teams with 3-2 records, underscoring the balance in the large-school bracket. It also begs for explanation on why some 3-2 teams make the metro Top 10 and others do not.
The rankings are meant to reflect the current state of the local football scene, not a prediction of who will win it all. So Rosemount, which lost its first two games by a total of four points but has given up only seven points while winning three in a row, looks formidable. At the same time, East Ridge, which needed a penalty to negate a Roseville two-point conversion to beat the Raiders two weeks ago and was crushed by Cretin-Derham Hall on Friday, still has work to do.
Metro Top 10
1. Eden Prairie (5-0): The defense continues to set the tone, despite losses of key players because of injuries. The Eagles haven’t allowed a first-half point all season. Next: at Shakopee, Friday, 7 p.m.
2. Edina (5-0): The Hornets’ streak of 10 consecutive quarters without giving up a point ended when Shakopee scored a third-quarter touchdown Friday. Next: at No. 3 Minnetonka, Friday, 7 p.m.
3. Minnetonka (5-0): In 2013, Tonka started 5-0 before back-to-back losses to Edina and Eden Prairie. This year? Same start, with Edina and Eden Prairie looming. Next two games will tell us a lot. Next: vs. No. 2 Edina, Friday, 7 p.m.
4. Lakeville North (4-1): The Panthers are developing depth, with seven players with more than 100 yards of total offense. Next: vs. Maple Grove, Friday, 7 p.m.
5. Totino-Grace (4-1): Nicked up on offense, but the defense has been elite. NG Luke Kubesh is quicker than a player his size (5-11, 280) has a right to be. Next: vs. Osseo, Friday, 7 p.m.
6. Centennial (4-1): The offense is vanilla, but when you rush for 256 yards, as the Cougars did in beating Osseo, it doesn’t need to be diverse. Next: vs. No. 10 Blaine, Friday, 7 p.m.
7. Rosemount (3-2): Three consecutive for the Irish, led by a stubborn defense and blossoming junior QB Max Carlson, who’s thrown for nearly 900 yards. Next: at Lakeville South, Friday, 7 p.m.
8. Cooper (5A, 5-0): The Hawks defense has allowed only two touchdowns in its past three games. Next: at Richfield, Saturday, 1 p.m.
9. St. Michael-Albertville (4-1): There’s more to the Knights than only Mitch Kartes. Desean Phillips, Marcus Krupke, Xavier Thurman and others will have to elevate their game. Next: at Anoka, Friday, 7 p.m.
10: Blaine (3-2): The Bengals offense is clicking again, thanks to back-to-back monster rushing performance from Byron Bynum Jr. Next: at No. 6 Centennial, Friday, 7 p.m.
Just missed: Roseville (4-1), Elk River (5A, 5-0), Cretin-Derham Hall (3-2), Maple Grove (3-2), Champlin Park (3-2), Chaska (5A, 5-0).