So that’s it. The high school football regular season is over.
But it didn’t go down without being heard. How about the 74 points that Cannon Falls put up against No. 1-ranked Lake City on Wednesday? And the 72 that Lanesboro scored, the 58 managed by surging Caledonia and the 51 by Stewartville — all of it in the first half.
It left lots of questions to be asked heading into this week’s playoffs. Answers will be coming soon.
Let’s roll into what just transpired and what to expect going forward.
Week 8’s Top Performers
1. RB RT Rein, Lanesboro
It’s not known yet if it was a Lanesboro school record, but it’s tough to imagine that it wasn’t. JT Rein ran and ran and ran on Wednesday. By the time he was done, the senior running back had rushed for 359 yards and seven touchdowns. That was part of a 72-27 win over Spring Grove.
2. RB Riley Keenan, Cannon Falls
The Bombers have a pack of running backs who they turn to in their lethal option-running game. On Wednesday, it was Keenan’s turn to blast off. He finished with 167 yards rushing on just 14 carries (12 yards per carry) and two touchdowns, one of them on a 22-yard catch.
3. QB Sam Backer, Chatfield
The do-everything Backer did everything offensively again. Backer ran for 169 yards and passed for 111, getting all of that done in just two quarters of play in guiding his No. 9-ranked team to a 30-14 win over Lewiston-Altura.
4. QB Lewis Doyle, Caledonia
The sophomore quarterback has heated up and so has his team. Doyle turned in his best performance this season in the Warriors’ explosive 58-22 win over Dover-Eyota. Doyle completed 14 of 16 passes for 231 yards and three touchdowns.
5. QB Eli Klavetter, Stewartville
Klavetter was his masterfully efficient self once again, completing 7 of 10 passes for 190 yards and three touchdowns in a 51-7 drubbing of John Marshall.
Week 8 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. Cannon Falls (7-1)
It might seem rash to leap the Bombers from sixth to first in one week. But it’s a fun move, it’s irresistible and it makes good sense. Consider what Cannon Falls has done the last three weeks on offense, and against two mighty teams. The Bombers have scored 54, 52 and then 74 points. The latter came against No. 1-ranked and previously unbeaten Lake City, the 52 points against previously stout and No. 9-ranked Plainview-Elgin-Millville. Cannon Falls’ option running attack has become unstoppable.
2. Lanesboro (8-0)
The Burros stay right where they were last week, at No. 2 in this power poll. They just keep winning and always by a lot. The last win featured a 359-yard rushing night with seven TDs by JT Rein. It also featured the Burros scoring 72 points and against a solid Spring Grove team. Lanesboro is ranked No. 2 in the state in Nine-Man.
3. Blooming Prairie (8-0)
The closest margin of victory for the Blossoms has been 15 points. That came in Week 2 against Lester Prairie. Other than that, the perfectly blended Blossoms have served up one blowout after another. It will be interesting to see how they react when a close game will inevitably happen in playoffs.
4. Stewartville (8-0)
The No. 4-ranked team in Class AAA, Stewartville led injury-ravaged John Marshall 51-0 at halftime on Wednesday. The Tigers have that kind of offensive firepower, led by incredibly efficient QB Eli Klavetter. But don’t sleep on the Tigers’ defense. Stewartville is allowing under 14 points per game and has done so despite a difficult schedule.
5. Chatfield (7-1)
You know what feels wrong? Chatfield is ranked just ninth in Class AA. All the Gophers have done is reel off seven straight wins and outscore the competition by an average of 31-16. Oh, and one more thing. Chatfield is the only team to beat Class AAA team Cannon Falls (44-34 on Oct. 2) — the area’s hottest team — all season.
6. Rushford-Peterson (8-0)
The Trojans are on an elevator, seeming to jump one spot each week in these power rankings. This time they go from seventh to sixth as they stayed unbeaten with a win over Faribault Bethlehem Academy. It was more good stuff from quarterback Malachi Bunke with 143 yards passing and a couple of touchdowns.
7. Grand Meadow (7-1)
Grand Meadow is another team that’s been on a steady move upward. The Superlarks ended the regular season with their seventh straight win. Grand Meadow’s ability to run and pass makes it really dangerous. In beating Kingsland, it had 205 yards passing and 176 rushing.
8. Mayo (7-1)
Mayo’s only loss this season has been to No. 1-ranked Mankato West, which might be boasting its top team ever. The Spartans, which gave up an out-of-character 400 yards just over a week to struggling Austin, got down to business in their regular-season finale against Byron. Mayo forced four Bears turnovers and held them to 152 total yards of offense. That’s precisely how the explosive Spartans wanted to go into the postseason.
9. Lake City (7-1)
It’s tough to pin too much on one loss. But this one had to take some of the steam from Lake City. The Tigers didn’t just lose to runaway train Cannon Falls, they got blitzed by the Bombers, 74-38. Cannon Falls, which has made every team look defenseless the last few weeks, scored touchdowns on all 10 of its possessions. But making things especially worrisome for Lake City is that it allowed Goodhue 40 points the week before. Seems to be a trend for a team that started out the year playing great defense.
10. Caledonia (4-4)
It’s strange on its face to tuck a 4-4 team into this power poll. But the power poll is as much a reflection of how a team is playing right now as anything. And there aren’t many teams playing better the last three weeks than the Warriors. Caledonia had been calling on a stout defense until Wednesday when quarterback Lewis Doyle suddenly threw for 231 yards and three touchdowns in a 58-22 rout of Dover-Eyota.
Things I think. . .
• Stewartville is as balanced as any team around here. The Tigers have the complete package on offense, with a tough, sturdy line, a star quarterback (Eli Klavetter), two excellent runners (Alex Wood and Owen Sikkink) and plenty of options and skill at wide receiver. But it’s Klavetter who makes this unbeaten show go. His accuracy is rare.
• Two teams with average-to-below records this season that playoff opponents will be most wary of are Caledonia and Lourdes. First of all, those two have the most decorated coaches in the area in Caledonia’s Carl Fruechte and Lourdes’ Mike Kesler. Then there’s what their teams have done lately. Caledonia (4-4) is on an impressive three-game winning streak and Lourdes has won two straight, the latest 42-0 over Pine Island.
• Every coach should take a long look at what Cannon Falls is doing offensively with its option-running attack, and try to emulate it. The Bombers have had scoring games of 57, 54, 54, 52 and on Wednesday totaled 74 points against the state’s top-ranked Class AAA team, Lake City.