If there was ever a time for Stewartville quarterback Eli Klavetter to prove that he is “all that,” it was Friday night as the No. 4-ranked Tigers took on No. 5 Kasson-Mantoville.
Klavetter, a 6-foot-3 senior who’s been having an outstanding season, didn’t disappoint. He strung together 16 straight completions to end the game and his team was an impressive 28-21 winner.
Klavetter’s performance was among a pack of them from southeastern Minnesota football players that jumped out. Let’s rewind, stack up our top-10 ranked teams in our power poll, consider a few things, then look at some tasty matchups.
Here we go.
Week 6’s Top Performers
1. QB Eli Klavetter, Stewartville
It’s not a stretch to say that Klavetter was perfect from the second quarter on in Friday’s huge 28-21 win over Kasson-Mantorville. He really was. The 6-foot-3 senior went 16-for-16 in that stretch, carrying his unbeaten team to its biggest win of the year. Klavetter finished the night a ridiculous 19-for-21 for 222 yards and two touchdowns. Klavetter has now passed for 1,263 yards this season.
2. QB Connor McGuire, Plainview-Elgin-Millville
In “The Year of the Quarterback” in southeastern Minnesota, McGuire spent Friday night saying “don’t forget about me.” And after his 23-for-31 performance for 320 yards and five touchdowns in a 47-8 win over Pine Island, we won’t forget about McGuire.
3. RB Noah Disbrow, St. Charles
If Disbrow is one of these guys who likes to get a weekend run in, he likely ditched that idea after getting in all kinds of paces against Dover-Eyota, He used the game to rush for an incredible 301 yards and three touchdowns. And Disbrow was economical about it, too, getting it done on just 15 carries. That’s 20 yards per carry.
4. RB Sam Backer, Chatfield
Backer has the combination of speed and power that keeps defensive coordinators up at night. The Goodhue DC can go back to bed now, because his night against Backer is done. It didn’t go well for the Wildcats, as Backer blasted for touchdowns runs of 4, 22 and 13 yards in the first half, then added a 68-yard TD sprint in the third quarter. It was all part of his 186-yard rushing night.
5. RB Braxton Munnikhuysen, Triton
It might be time to nickname Munnikhuysen “Thriller.” He certainly lived up to that on Friday night, scoring both of his team’s overtime touchdowns and also diving in with a two-point conversion run after the first TD. It was all part of a 167-yard rushing night for him in his team’s 43-42 wild win over Lewiston-Altura.
Week 6 Power Rankings
(Editor's note: These rankings are considered "pound-for-pound" rankings, similar to many rankings systems in boxing and mixed martial arts. They represent the best teams in southeastern Minnesota, relative to the class they play in.)
1. Blooming Prairie (6-0)
The Blossoms solidified their spot atop this power ranking with an impressive 56-8 romp over what was supposed to be a serious challenger. Turned out No. 5-ranked Gibbons-Fairfax-Winthrop was no match for the No. 1 Class AA ranked Blossoms. That was 585 yards of total off churned out by Blooming Prairie, a program that under coach Chad Gimbel has always boasted among the top offenses in the state. The Blossoms certainly play elite defense, too, allowing just 7.6 points per game this season.
2. Lanesboro (6-0)
A week ago, PB colleague Alex VandenHouten took over this High School Football Focus for one installment as I wound my way around the Mississippi River in a canoe. Well, if he doesn’t think I noticed what he did with Lanesboro in this power ranking, I did. He moved the Burros down one spot from where I had them the previous week. I’m putting them back in their rightful place, wedged between Blooming Prairie and Lake City. The Burros are unbeaten, untested (save for Grand Meadow having hung with them to start the season). Lanesboro has been too big, too fast and too committed for everyone. And they just got done hanging 64 points on Nicollet.
3. Lake City (6-0)
The Tigers were impressive for the sixth straight week and it was likely enough to hang onto their No. 1 state ranking in Class AAA. As splashy as quarterback Justin Wohlers is, the Lake City defense is just as impressive. For the fifth time in six games, the Tigers allowed fewer than 15 points in a game, stuffing Zumbrota-Mazeppa 40-7 on Friday. A major test looms for Lake City to end its season, with it hosting No. 6-ranked Cannon Falls on Oct. 20. Taking on Goodhue on Thursday should be no pushover, either.
4. Stewartville (6-0)
The No. 4-ranked Tigers jump one spot from their previous ranking in this power poll. They earned it by passing a major test, beating No. 5-ranked Kasson-Mantorville 28-21. Eli Klavetter has established himself as one of the top four quarterbacks out of a loaded bunch in southeastern Minnesota. He put an exclamation mark on that notion by completing his final 16 passes against K-M. Stewartville has now beaten three excellent teams, Mankato East, Faribault and Kasson-Mantorville.
5. Chatfield (5-1)
The hunch after Chatfield began its season with a lopsided loss to Plainview-Elgin-Millville was that the Gophers would quickly get their act together, with too much talent and veteran leadership on this team to struggle. Chatfield has done that and then some with five straight wins, all of them of the impressive variety. Sam Backer is the drink stirrer here. The junior running back is one of the better ones in the state.
6. Mayo (5-1)
Mayo nicely put its 30-6 loss to No. 1-ranked Mankato West behind it, roaring past overmatched solid team New Prague 45-0. Nobody in these parts has the offensive weapons that Mayo does, with running back Noah Smith, quarterback Bennett Ellsworth and receivers Cayden and Carter Holcomb. The defense seems to be improving, too, with shutouts in two of its last four games.
7. Plainview-Elgin-Millville (5-1)
The loss two weeks ago to No. 1-ranked Lake City is sifting to the background after the Bulldogs have posted two straight resounding wins. P-E-M has been known for its stout and swarming defense this season. But quarterback Connor McGuire is giving teams plenty to think about, too. He put up 320 passing yards, with five touchdowns on Friday against Pine Island.
8. Rushford-Peterson (6-0)
The thought was that Rushford-Peterson might get a rare test as it took on a 3-2 Randolph team. Turned out there was no test there, as talented option quarterback Malachi Bunke owned the night with 157 yards passing and 53 rushing. R-P has played just two teams with winning records this season, Fillmore Central (won 26-15) and Randolph. The 15 points given up to the formidable Falcons (5-1) were the most R-P has allowed all season.
9. Grand Meadow (5-1)
Nobody is going to want to play the Superlarks in the playoffs. That includes the one team that’s beaten them this season, No. 2-ranked Lanesboro. Grand Meadow didn’t have star running back Dustin Copley when those teams met at the beginning of the season. Grand Meadow sure has him now, and he’s been unstoppable. Copley had 96 yards in receptions on Friday and the week before he rushed for 229 yards and four touchdowns.
10. Cannon Falls (5-1)
Cannon Falls’ lone loss was to arguably the hottest team right now in southeastern Minnesota, Chatfield. That was a shootout, Chatfield prevailing 44-34. On Friday, the Bombers scored 54 points against winless La Crescent-Hokah. It marked the third time this season that Cannon Falls has gone over the 50-point mark.
Things I think. . .
• State polls can be goofy, with those of us who vote in them certainly not seeing every team in Minnesota play, much less the ones in our own area. That said, that Grand Meadow isn’t in the top 10 in Nine-Man is befuddling. The Larks should not only be ranked, I’m listing them as a real possibility to finish as state champions. The toughest part for them might be simply getting to state, with No. 2-ranked Lanesboro in the same district.
• If there is a team out there with more injury woes than John Marshall, I’d like to see it. The Rockets — already lacking depth to begin the season — were running around with a combination of eight sophomores and freshmen on defense Friday night against Owatonna. JM was without eight projected starters, most of them lost for the season. On offense, that includes their two best receivers (Peter Ladu and Michael Nicometo) and best offensive lineman (Ben Laack).
• Caledonia has not had nearly the season it’s used to. The Warriors entered the year with a nation-best 71-game winning streak. But that streak was immediately snapped, No. 1-ranked Lake City doing the honors. Now, six weeks in, Caledonia is 2-4. But here’s a hunch: The Warriors will make some noise in the playoffs.They are coming off a 15-0 win over Lourdes and have been competitive in all but two games this season. There is just way too much tradition and coaching there to think that Caledonia doesn’t have a real chance.
Plainview-Elgin-Millville at Cannon Falls: This matches the No. 6 ranked team in Class AAA, Cannon Falls, against the No. 9-ranked team. Both have one loss, Cannon Falls’ to Chatfield and P-E-M’s to No. 1-ranked Lake City. Offensively, it will feature Cannon Falls’ ground-heavy and P-E-M’s more diverse ways led by excellent quarterback Connor McGuire (season-high 320 yards passing on Friday). The Bulldogs have the edge defensively, allowing just 7.8 points per game. Cannon Falls permits 17.3.
Caledonia at Triton: This will be a litmus test for Caledonia, as it takes on a strong Triton team (5-1) all while having hopes of returning to “Caledonia” form. The Warriors are an uncharacteristic 2-4 but coming off an impressive 15-0 shutout of Lourdes. Triton is riding high after having downed Lewiston-Altura in overtime, 43-42.