Consider this a potential state tournament sneak preview, Class 4A style, as both teams reached the final eight last season and, seemingly, have the firepower to do so again this fall.
Delano, the No. 8 seed in last year's Class 4A state tournament, lost in the quarterfinals 14-7 to eventual champion and top seed St. Paul Academy/Minnehaha Academy/Blake. Willmar beat Hermantown 44-0 and St. Paul Johnson 62-20 before falling to SMB 44-18 in the title game.
Can either, or both (Delano is in Class 4A, Section 6; Willmar in Class 4A, Section 8), make a return trip to state?
Delano returns quarterback Max Otto and one of his favorite targets in Trey Longstreet from last season. The duo combined for three touchdown passes in the Tigers’ season-opening 31-24 victory over Sauk Rapids-Rice. Adam Brown, also a hockey standout, was a wrecking ball on defense, leading Delano (1-0) with 12 tackles and a forced fumble.
Willmar (0-1) opened with a wild 44-43 loss to section rival Detroit Lakes. Cardinals quarterback Tanner Bauman threw four touchdown passes, and Zachary Morrell returned a kickoff 87 yards for another score.