BOX; John Marshall at Owatonna
Friday, 7 p.m.
2004 records: JM was 6-2 in the Big Nine and 9-3 overall. Owatonna was 5-3, 5-4.
Last meeting: JM, after starting 3-0, fell to Owatonna 14-7 in Owatonna last year. JM lost despite outgaining the Huskies 220-149. Pete Moehnke led JM in rushing with 51 yards. Tailback Marcus Sherels was held to 44. Derek Skala paced Owatonna with 85 yards rushing.
Size differential: JM hopes to take advantage of much bigger offensive and defensive lines than Owatonna. The Rockets average in the 260-pound range up front, while Owatonna averages about 210 pounds. JM's biggest guys are Nick Faber (6-foot-6, 290), and Zach Eckheart (6-5, 280).
Old, new: JM has explosive halfback Marcus Sherels back in the starting lineup. The 165-pound senior ran for just over 1,000 yards last season. JM is new at quarterback, though, with Pete Mathiason taking over for since graduated Nick Sikkink. The 6-foot, 185-pound Mathiason is considered equally adept at passing and running.
Owatonna's stars: The Huskies have a couple of excellent talents returning in their backfield. Halfback Derek Skala ran for almost 1,000 yards last year at halfback, and Derek Eddie threw for 840 yards. Skala was all-conference. Owatonna also has an excellent linebacker in 6-1, 220-pound Mike Shaver, and an excellent safety in 6-3, 195-pound Matt Uher.
Mankato East at Century
Friday, 7 p.m., at Century Stadium
2004 Records: Century went 8-0 in the Big Nine Conference to win its first conference title and finished 10-1 overall; Mankato East was 5-3 in the Big Nine and 7-4 overall.
The series: Mankato East has a 5-2 edge in the all-time series although Century has won the last two meetings. This is the third straight year that the teams will open the season against each other.
Last meeting: Century whipped East 25-7 in the season opener last season at Mankato. Century won easily despite its inability to hang onto the football; the Panthers lost four fumbles and QB Bryan Denisen was intercepted four times. In the fourth quarter, Century's defense scored one TD on an interception return and the special teams scored a TD on a punt return.
East notes: The Cougars have their entire offensive line back from last year's team, which won seven straight games after an 0-3 start. The anchor of the lines is 6-1 and 295-pound Barry Koppen. LB Jake Benzkofer, 6-1 and 215, was honorable mention all-state in 2004 when he set a school record with 109 tackles.
Century notes: Third-year starting QB Bryan Denisen will be handing off to a new starting back field featuring speedy TB Joe Clark and rugged FB Cody O'Reilly. Clark rushed for over 500 yards and had eight TDs in 2004, including five scores of 35 yards or longer. O'Reilly, 6-1 and 195, has been moved to FB to block for Clark and provide some power running. Denisen averaged 17.3 yards per completion and a TD on every fifth pass in 2004.
Albert Lea at Mayo
Friday, 7 p.m. at Mayo H.S. Field
2004 Records: Mayo slipped to 3-5 in the Big Nine Conference and finished 3-6 overall; Albert Lea was 1-7 in the Big Nine and 1-8 overall.
Last meeting: Mayo blanked Albert Lea 28-0 in the regular-season finale of the 2004 season.
Albert Lea notes: The Tigers have a new coaching staff. Clay Anderson is the new head coach as he takes over for Jeff Marty. The Tigers are just 2-43 since the start of the 2000 season. After three straight 0-9 seasons to start the decade, Albert Lea has beaten Winona each of the last two seasons . The Tigers enter with a six-game losing streak.
Mayo notes: The Spartans played a lot of underclassmen a year ago and they are counting on a big turnaround in 2005. Coach James Miller is optimistic after the Spartans had a strong scrimmage last weekend. Mayo's top two rushers return in L.J. Stead (more than 500 yards) and 220-pound bruising Tyler Rank (more than 400 yards). "We hope our ground game is back," Mayo coach James Miller said. "We weren't able to run the ball that well last year." The Spartans do return four of their five offensive linemen. Quarterback Jordan Miller (900 yards passing) and No. 2 receiver Aaron Senne also return. "We want to mix in the pass," coach Miller said. Linebackers Joe Meyer (6-3, 220) and junior Trevor Simmons (6-2, 195) figure to be key players on the defense.
Lourdes at Zumbrota-Mazeppa
Friday, 7 p.m.
2004 Records: Lourdes went 7-1 in the Hiawatha Valley League, but finished second to Kasson-Mantorville in the Blue Division. The Eagles were 7-2 overall. Zumbrota-Mazeppa finished 2-3 in the HVL Gold Division and was 2-7 overall, losing to Chatfield in the first round of the section playoffs.
Last meeting: Lourdes whipped Zumbrota-Mazeppa 34-6 at Zumbrota last year. Lourdes totaled 389 yards of total offense in the game, its highest offensive effort of the season. The only starter back from that game for the Eagles is David Dahlstrom, who is an end, going both ways.
Lourdes notes: This is the first game in the Mike Kesler era. The new coach replaces Marv Peters, who retired after 10 years as head coach with a 44-50 record. Kesler becomes the ninth head football coach at Lourdes since the school opened in 1941. John Mason and Ray Chase coached from 1941-1947, Bill O'Neill was coach from 1948-50, Ralph Peterson from 1951-55, Wayne Knipschield in 1956, Joe Mayer from 1957-1983, Dennis Nigon from 1984-1994, Marv Peters from 1995-2004 and now Kesler, who graduated from Lourdes in 1991. He played on a football scholarship at South Dakota State University and has been a Lourdes assistant since 1997. Only one starter returns for Lourdes.
Zumbrota-Mazeppa notes: It's imperative that the Cougars get off to a better start this year than the past two years where they are a combined 0-7 to start the season. Z-M has 22 players returning who started at least one game last year. Derek Ramthun caught 10 passes for 290 yards and a pair of touchdowns in 2004. Willie Rauen is back in his fifth year as head coach. Before that he served as an assistant at Z-M.