Irondale junior running back Victor James number 45 is a strong,smart and fast runner who should have a breakout season as the Knights' featured back.] Richard.Sennott@startribune.com Richard Sennott/Star Tribune New Brighton, Minnesota Friday 8/16/13)
1 FINAL YEAR
School administrators voted to dissolve the North Suburban after the 2013-14 school year, ending an era of sorts. The conference became something of a catch-all in 2005 when various schools were placed with stalwarts such as Irondale, Spring Lake Park and Totino-Grace. All three were placed in the Northwest Suburban Conference beginning next year, though Totino-Grace already is playing football in the NWSC. Cooper and St. Louis Park will join the new Metro West and Fridley is headed to the Tri-Metro. Benilde- St. Margaret’s remains uncertain of its fate.
2 TRACK STARS ABOUND
Running a lane in track is less hectic than navigating the field during football games, but three teams nevertheless will benefit from some strong sprinters. Fridley defensive back Odell Howard claimed third in the 100- and 200-meter dashes at the Class 2A state track and field meet last spring. Irondale running back Victor James ran a leg of the Knights’ fourth-place 4x100 relay, and Spring Lake Park running back Grant Walter qualified for state in the 100.
3 SAVE THE DATES
Spring Lake Park, a favorite to win the conference and go to state, must prove itself early and often. The Panthers open the season with Mahtomedi and Irondale in games that will affect seeding in Class 5A, Section 4. Irondale also is a conference opponent. A big test awaits Oct. 4 when the Panthers travel to Glencoe-Silver Lake, winners of five Class 3A state titles from 2000 to ’08. … Benilde-St. Margaret’s, another conference title contender, plays powerful DeLaSalle on Sept 28. The Red Knights could be playing for the final North Suburban Conference title at Spring Lake on Oct. 16.
4 PLAYERS TO WATCH
Two quarterbacks — Fridley’s Nick Rathke and Benilde-St. Margaret’s Keaton Studsrud — rank among the top at their position in the conference. Rathke had led the North Suburban in passing the past two years. His primary target, Michael Murray, led the conference in receptions and receiving yards the past two seasons. Studsrud, a dual threat, rolled up more than 1,100 yards rushing and 1,300 yards passing last fall and accounted for 24 touchdowns.
David La Vaque