Football season near, and optimism is high

Here are a few things to watch for in 2013

Lakeville North football players gathered in their locker room at the Metrodome before taking on Eden Prairie in the Class 6A championship game at the 2012 Prep Bowl. File photo by Rick Orndorf

Lakeville North football players gathered in their locker room at the Metrodome before taking on Eden Prairie in the Class 6A championship game at the 2012 Prep Bowl. File photo by Rick Orndorf

While a few high school football teams were allowed to start practice one week early in anticipation of “Zero Week” games in the third week of August, most started officially, with coaches presents, on Monday.

Sun Thisweek Newspapers will have previews of the eight football teams in its coverage area next week. Until then, here are a few things to watch for as they gear up for their opening games Aug. 29 and 30.

Apple Valley (8-3 last season; reached Class 5A quarterfinals): The challenge for new head coach Chad Clendening will be continuing the progress the Eagles made in their turnaround year in 2012. The numbers in the program are larger, and the Eagles return quarterback Tommy Singer and most of their starting offensive linemen.

Burnsville (3-6; lost in first round of Class 6A playoffs): Quarterback Will Reger and defensive back Brett Shepley are among those returning to help the Blaze try to forget the way last season finished, when it lost five consecutive games after starting 3-1.

Eagan (1-8; lost in first round of Class 6A playoffs): Another team in search of a bounceback season. One sign the Wildcats weren’t that far away last year is they lost by a combined four points to Rosemount and Eastview, two teams that reached the final eight in Class 6A. Linebacker Joe Kovach led the team in defensive points as a sophomore.

Eastview (7-4; reached Class 6A quarterfinals): The rushing game is one of the things the Lightning does best, and Eastview returns junior Will Rains, who scored 21 touchdowns and rushed for almost 1,600 yards last season. Quarterback Mark Dwyer and linebacker Jacob Bechstein are among other key returning players.

Farmington (7-3; reached Class 5A, Section 3 finals): The Tigers should be ready to roll in their final season in the Missota Conference (they move to the South Suburban next year). They return eight starters on offense and eight on defense. Farmington moves up a class, to 6A, for the playoffs this season.

Lakeville North (11-2; reached Class 6A finals): Can the Panthers match last year’s run to the Prep Bowl? They scored 23 points or more in 11 of their 13 games last season, winning all 11. Jamiah Newell, an 1,100-yard rusher, returns from that explosive offense. North will have to be ready early as its season opener is at home against Lakeville South, which is itching for revenge for last season’s 47-24 loss.

Lakeville South (4-5; lost in first round of Class 6A playoffs): The Cougars struggled uncharacteristically last year, with turnovers often at the root of the problem. They could be stout on defense, as returnees A.J. Westrude and Josh Corcoran were among their leading tacklers.

Rosemount (7-5 overall; reached Class 6A semifinals): After losing three of their first four games, the Irish turned things around abruptly. Quarterback Jackson Erdmann and running back/receiver Dimitri Williams helped spark the playoff run and are two members of a talented class of juniors in the South Suburban. The early schedule is tough, starting with Wayzata and Eastview in the first two games.

up arrow