It's playoff time for Minnesota high school football teamsby Tom Weber, Minnesota Public Radio
It's playoff time for high school football fans in Minnesota. Most first-round games will be played Tuesday night.
St. Paul, Minn. — Hundreds of teams are now vying for the six state championships that will be awarded at the Metrodome the weekend after Thanksgiving.
Schools are split up into six classes, based on enrollment.
Class 5A, for example, is for the largest schools. One clear team to beat there is Eden Prairie. The Eagles are going for their third straight championship and have won 36 games in a row.
But coach Mike Grant notes this year's team is younger and has had to work harder to stay unbeaten. For one, 20 of the team's 22 starters were seniors last year and have graduated.
"We were a lot healthier team than we are right now," Grant said. "We've had tough, physical games all year, so it makes it harder because we've had to use our depth than we have in the past."
Eden Prairie (8-0) is also ranked fourth in the Midwest in USA Today's weekly rankings of the best high school football teams in the nation.
Two other schools, Totino-Grace and Glencoe-Silver Lake, are also going for their third straight championships in their respective classes, 4A and 3A.
Caledonia and Goodhue are the defending champs in Classes 2A and 1A.
Another highly-favored team is Stephen-Argyle Central, which probably doesn't get the same level of attention because of its rural location in far northwest Minnesota.
The school only has about 100 students, which is small enough to put it in the class that only allows nine players on the field at a time.
But Stephen-Argyle is a powerhouse in its own right, having won its last 75 consecutive games and vying for its sixth straight state championship.
But those are numbers the school's principal and head football coach, Mark Kroulik, tries not to draw attention to, even though he knows it's on everyone's mind.
"We don't want to make such a big thing out if it that that determines the success of the season because we've had a great year," Kroulik said. "We don't want satisfaction to be determined by how long that streak continues."
That said, Kroulik admitted the streak probably gets some players excited for games.
"I think sometimes that's a real positive motivator, nobody overlooks any games," Kroulik said. "They focus on the next one because they don't want to lose that streak."
The six title games will be played the weekend after Thanksgiving at the Metrodome.