Years of playing top teams in Class 5A had prepared St. Michael-Albertville to jump to Class 6A, Knights coach Jared Essler said.
His team proved that Thursday, scoring five touchdowns in the first half in a season-opening victory over Mounds View.
Junior Desean Phillips rushed for three scores and senior Mitchell Kartes for two as the Knights rolled to a 45-21 victory at Mounds View.
"We all flew around, played our hearts out," said Kartes, whose team led 38-0 at halftime. "We kind of tried to make a statement, like the jump's not as big as what everyone's trying to make it out to be."
The move came because of increased enrollment at St. Michael-Albertville, just two years after the Knights won a 5A state title.
Instead of playing nearby rivals such as Elk River and Rogers, they will face 6A powers such as Blaine and Totino-Grace, the reigning state champion.
"I know it'll be a great test for us, but that's why we made the move," Essler said.
Mounds View played its first game under new coach Aaron Moberg, who took over from 16-year coach Jim Galvin. Seniors Alex Relling, Souayang Xiong and Sam Mesfin scored for the Mustangs.