One of the oldest conferences in the metro always is adapting.
This year the Tri-Metro welcomes back a former member, St. Agnes, and gains two newcomers, Providence Academy and New Life Academy. All three coming over from the now-defunct MCAA football conference. Providence will make its presence known early, but the league still belongs to tradition-rich DeLaSalle.
Coach: George Leistikow. 2010 record: 5-5.
• The Centaurs are coming off their best season in more than a decade. That experience has hopes high among a solid group of seniors, led by WR Nick Hansen, whose remarkable hands will help newcomer Francis Kanneh settle in at QB.
Coach: Brian Brown. 2010 record: 3-5.
• The Beacons are set at QB with savvy senior Dan Hartman. He threw for more than 1,700 yards in 2010 and had a 3-to-1 touchdown-to-interception ratio (18-6). Having three experienced linemen protecting him will only add to his value. LB Gavin Farley is back after missing much of 2010.
Coach: Paul Mork. 2010 record: 6-2.
• Newbies to the Tri-Metro, the Eagles have a strong enough core returning to step right in and compete. Bookend tackles Dan LeMay and Jacob Salkowicz are 280-pounders who should pave the way for first-rate running backs Max Mattila and Jordan Nieuwsma.
Coach: Charles Vickers. 2010 record: 3-6.
• The Aggies are disadvantaged from the outset with only 21 players on the roster and the loss of last year's quarterback, Josh Gutzmann. But returning running backs Akayla Porter and Josh Johnson should make a splash running behind fullback Even Morehead. Wide receiver Ryan Hernandez excels at gaining yards after the catch.
Coach: Todd Niklaus. 2010 record: 8-2.
• With nearly its entire offensive line returning to protect second-year starting QB Jordan Wiggins, the hard-edged Huskies won't need to be too fancy to succeed. Most of their top players go both ways, however, so developing capable backups is a priority.
Coach: Carl Lemke. 2010 record: 6-4.
• The slight-of-hand offense that the Crusaders run generates big numbers statistically. That should be the case again as nearly the entire lineup returns, led by a backfield of running backs Wesley Tucker and Jackson Goplen and quarterback Matt Olson, a trio that combined to rush for 2,793 yards in 2010.
Coach: John Coatta. 2010 record: 1-8.
• The Bears' spread offense in 2010 resulted in more than a few lopsided losses. But key players such as QB Conner Kline and RBs Lucas Simmons and Thomas Blease gained valuable experience in the process and the Bears should be more competitive this season. Whether that translates into victories is unclear.
Coach: Brett Bergene. 2010 record: 8-3.
• The Mustangs feature possibly the most dynamic passing combination in the metro in quarterback Austin Lommen (3,080 yards, 35 TD in 2010) and wide receiver Kasey Robinson (69 receptions, 889 yards, 11 TD). Scoring will not be a problem; stopping opponents from doing so will be a much more difficult task.
Coach: Sean McMenomy. 2010 record: 11-2.
• DeLaSalle always seems to have elite-level talent ready to replace the previous years' studs. Lucas Wiborg is big, physical guard who plays angry. WR Ross Barker is primed for a big year after last season's wrist injury and should mesh well with strong-armed QB Reid Travis.
Coach: Jordan Baynard. 2010 record: 4-5.
• It's a quality-vs.-quantity issue with the Redhawks, who can throw out a competitive starting lineup but will struggle if the front-line players start falling. Junior QB Bjorn Halvorson is an exceptional all-around athlete who has made great strides after passing for 1,291 yards in 2010.
Coach: Mark Heiser. 2010 record: 0-8.
• It's rare that the Spartans can match up physically with opponents, but that should be less of a concern now that they can boast of some big boys (Thomas Moyers is 6-2 and 281; Bayert Salverda, 6-3, 300) up front. Depth, however, is another annual problem that has not been solved.
Coach: Nate Harrington.
2010 record: 9-1.
• The Lions will hit the ground running, literally, in their first year in the Tri-Metro. With speed to burn with running backs Marshall Klitzke and Ryan Dart; a tall, athletic QB in Jackson Canfield; and experienced, mobile linemen, the running game will be formidable. The defense will hold its own as well.
1. St. Croix Lutheran
2. St. Anthony
3. Concordia Academy
4. New Life Academy
5. Brooklyn Center
6. St. Agnes
3. Provdence Academy
4. Minnehaha Academy
6. St. Paul Academy