The final 2016 Associated Press Minnesota High School Football Polls are out, and Totino-Grace is the unanimous No. 1 in Class 6A for the first time this season. This comes as no surprise as the Eagles, who who earned eight first-place votes and 80 points, were the lone team to finish the regular season undefeated.
Torino-Grace (8-0, 7-0) has a rematch with Coon Rapids (0-8, 0-7) in the first round of the playoffs Friday -- the Eagles defeated the Cardinals 41-13 in the regular-season finale. If the Totino-Grace defense can maintain its average of 10.3 points allowed per game, the Eagles have a good chance to better last year’s finish: a loss in the state semifinals.
Eden Prairie earned 72 points and took second in the rankings. The Eagles won their final seven games after a 17-14 season-opening loss to Totino-Grace.
Having shut out five of its final six opponents, Eden Prairie looks well-prepared to chase its 11th state championship, a run that begins with a game against Eagan (0-8, 0-7).
Rosemount (7-1, 6-1) moved up from fifth to third in poll with a total of 64 points. The Irish head into the playoffs with positive momentum after a big 24-21 win last Wednesday over last week’s No. 2 team, Lakeville North. Like the two teams above them, the Irish have thrived this season with strong defensive play (10.5 points allowed per game), with their lone loss coming to offensive juggernaut Farmington. It defeat was also the only regular season game in which Rosemount allowed more than three touchdowns.
Can defense lead Rosemount to its first state championship since 1981? Only time will tell.
Rounding out the Top 5 is forth-ranked Lakeville North with 51 points and Maple Grove, which jumped up from seventh to fifth, with 47 points.
The Panthers look to get back on track in the postseason, task they should accomplish in the opening round against a Shakopee team (1-7, 0-7) that has lost seven straight games.
Maple Grove has a tougher draw in facing Roseville (3-5, 3-4), but the Crimson, winners of six-straight games, have found a consistent offense thanks to Brad Davison (207.8 passing yards per game, 95.8 rushing yards per game).
Elk River (8-0, 7-0) finishes the regular season as the top team in Class 5A, earning eight first-place votes and 97 points. With the top rushing attack in the state (448.8 yards per game), the Elks appear ready to make their first state tournament appearance since 2012.
Mankato West (5-0, 8-0) finishes ranked No. 2 with a pair of first-place votes and 87 points. Is there cause for concern after a narrow 42-39 victory over Winona (7-1, 4-1) to close out the season? Nope. It’s the exact opposite -- the win gave the Scarlets the Big Southeast District Blue Division title and presumably loads of confidence heading into the postseason.
It also was the third straight game in which the Mankato West offense scored more than 40 points, something the Scarlets will rely on as they face increasingly stronger teams in the playoffs.
Checking in at No. 3 is Spring Lake Park with 84 points. The Panthers are another strong rushing team, led by running back Zachary Ojile (157.2 yards per game), and have a first-round playoff bye. They face the winner of the St. Louis Park-Minneapolis Southwest quarterfinal game in two weeks. Spring Lake Park is a strong team, but its offense comes with few surprises -- the Panthers average just three passing attempts per game.
In fourth place is Mahtomedi with 70 points. The Zephyrs are one of the six teams in Class 5A to finish the regular season undefeated. They’ll need to remain perfect to play in their first state tournament since 2010.
Chanhassen (8-0, 7-0) finished out the Top 5 with 55 points. The Storm won the Suburban District White Division title after a sub-.500 finish last year and hope to ride their offense (45.13 points per game) deep into the playoffs.
Earning seven first-place votes and 96 points, South St. Paul finishes as the top-ranked team in Class 4A. Last season’s state runner-up, the Packers hope a stronger defense ( can augment a slightly less potent rushing attack compared to last season. South St. Paul allowed 12.6 points allowed per game this year compared to 18.4 ppg a season ago.
Hutchinson captured the No. 2 ranking with two first-place votes and 91 total points. The Tigers (8-0, 7-0) won the East Central District South Division by a landslide and face the winner of the Waseca-New Ulm quarterfinal game in the second round of the Section 2 playoffs. For Hutchinson to enjoy a deep playoff run, its defense must have stronger starts. The Tigers have given up 43.8 percent of their total points in the first quarter.
With a first-place vote and 75 points, Marshall finishes ranked third. The Tigers led the state with 413 points scored while allowing only 68 in the regular season.
Two undefeated teams complete the Top 5 as Fergus Falls (fourth with 68 points) holds off Mound-Westonka (fifth with 57) in the battle for position in the final rankings.
The Otters enter the playoffs with a defense clicking on all cylinders. It allowed just 21 total points in the final four regular-season games.
The White Hawks have been equally impressive, taking a plus-22 turnover margin into the postseason.
Twin City District Maroon Division champion St. Croix Lutheran (8-0, 6-0) are the top-ranked team in Class 3A with 89 points and eight first-place votes. The Crusaders will undoubtedly have a target on their backs in the postseason, but with three players who had at least 450 rushing yards during the regular season, St. Croix Lutheran will make it difficult for opponents to keep that target in their sights.
Jackson County Central is second with a first-place vote and 81 points. The Huskies have outscored the opposition 188-102 this season. Call it scoring troubles or coming through in the clutch, but Jackson County Central (8-0, 7-0) must continue finding ways to win if it hopes to return to the state tournament for the fourth time in six years.
Rochester Lourdes ranks third with 73 points and is the final undefeated team in Class 3A after pulling out a clutch 29-28 victory over Stewartville in regular-season finale.
Defending Class 3A champion Pierz is ranked fourth with 60 points. After a 20-6 loss to Maple Lake in Week 2, the Pioneers rattled off six straight wins to climb back into the Top 5.
Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton (7-1, 5-1) finishes in the fifth spot with 54 points. The Rebels take a three-game winning streak into a first-round matchup with Roseau (0-8, 0-7).
Caledonia finished as the unanimous No. 1 in Class 2A after holding on to the top ranking all season. The defending state champions earned eight first-place votes and 80 total points. Quarterback Owen King has found a consistent target in Andrew Goergen, as the two have connected for 15 touchdowns. With the Warriors’ offensive production (45.3 points per game), they were a no-brainer to remain atop the poll.
In second place is Barnesville (8-0, 6-0) with 72 points. The Trojans recently locked up a Midwest District White Division title with a 48-20 win over Pelican Rapids. Averaging nearly 300 rushing yards per game, the Trojan rushing attack will be a load for any Class 2A team to slow.
Pillager (8-0, 6-0) ranks third with 62 points. The Huskies defense allowed 8.9 points per game and has been a big part of their undefeated season and Northwest District White Division championship.
Rounding out the Top 5 is Eden Valley Watkins (7-1, 6-1) and Redwood Valley (7-1, 6-1), in fourth and fifth place with 56 and 46 points, respectively.
Minneota unsurprisingly finishes the regular season as the No. 1 team in Class 1A, earning all seven first-place votes and 70 points.
Behind the likes of quarterback Alex Pohlen (168.1 passing yards per game) and running back Isaac Hennen (149.2 rushing yards per game), the back-to-back Class 1A champion Vikings seem ready for another title defense.
Minneapolis North (8-0, 5-0) is second with 62 points. The Polars finished first in the Twin Cities District Blue Division standings with a 38-14 win over St. Agnes last week. Last year’s Class 1A runners-up, North looks to return to the title game by continuing to close out games behind a strong defense -- one that's allowed only 33 second-half points during the regular season.
BOLD (8-0, 7-0) ranks third with 57 points and completed an undefeated season and won the Mid State District Subdivision 1 title with a 42-6 win over Yellow Medicine East last week.
Hinckley-Finlayson checks in at No. 4 with 48 points while Fillmore Central is fifth with 39 points.
Three-time defending 9-Man champion Grand Meadow (8-0, 8-0) finishes atop the rankings after earning all seven first-place votes and 70 points. The Superlarks have outscored teams 328-86 this season and are an obvious favorite to four-peat.
Grand Meadow also takes a 44-game winning streak into the section playoffs. Need we say more? The Superlarks' trek to U.S. Bank Stadium begins Tuesday when they host Lyle-Pacelli.
Cleveland (8-0, 8-0) moves up from third to second for the final poll, after a 24-14 win over Edgerton-Ellsworth last Wednesday. The Clippers replace Spring Grove (7-1, 7-1), which falls outside the top five after a loss to Grand Meadow in the regular season finale.
Waubun (8-0, 5-0) is third with 56 points, and the West District North 2 Division champs take momentum from last week's 68-6 win over Win-E-Mac into the section playoffs.
Finishing off the Top 5 are Nevis (8-0, 4-0) with 46 points and Spring Grove (7-1, 7-1) with 44 points.
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