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Four teams to defend titles; two teams make first appearances at state football tournament

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      Four teams return to defend their 2011 football titles -- Dawson-Boyd in Class A, Caledonia in Class AA, St. Croix Lutheran of West St. Paul in Class AAA, and Eden Prairie in Class AAAAAA. If Caledonia wins, it would be the third consecutive title for the Warriors. The Eden Prairie Eagles won in Class AAAAA last year, but they now belong to the new 32-team, largest schools Class AAAAAA.

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      Twenty teams that competed in the 2011 tournament have qualified again, while two teams are making their first appearances. Sixteen teams enter with unblemished records.

      The 2012 tournament has quarterfinals being played over three days at neutral sites throughout Minnesota Nov. 8-10. Semifinals will follow at the Metrodome Nov. 15-17 and Prep Bowl XXXI will be played over two days at the Metrodome Nov. 23 and 24. (Check the League website -- www.MSHSL .org -- for exact times and locations of quarterfinals.)

      Class 9-Man Quarterfinal Highlights

      Wheaton/Herman-Norcross is the only team to return from the 2011 field. South Ridge of Culver is the only team making its debut appearance, and two teams boast perfect records. A new champion will emerge as the defending champion from Edgerton/Ellsworth failed to qualify this year. The only teams to meet during the regular season were Wheaton/Herman-Norcross and Clinton-Graceville-Beardsley and they will meet again in the quarterfinals. Wheaton/Herman-Norcross defeated Clinton-Graceville-Beardsley 30-12 on Sept. 21.

      Section-Team (Record)

      6-Nevis (11-0) vs. 5-South Ridge, Culver (10-1) 5 p.m. Nov. 9 at St. Cloud State University: The Nevis Tigers, who were No. 5 in the final Associated Press (AP) poll, return for their fourth appearance. They made their last appearance in 1993 and are still in the hunt for their first championship. The unranked South Ridge Panthers are making their first tournament appearance.

      2-Mountain Lake Area (9-2) vs. 1-Grand Meadow (10-1) 7 p.m. Nov. 9 at Rochester Community & Technical College: Mountain Lake Area is making its first appearance as a co-op with Mountain Lake Christian. Mountain Lake made an appearance as a single school in 1980 and then made three additional appearances as a co-op with Butterfield-Odin between 1991 and 2003. The Superlarks of Grand Meadow are making their fifth tournament appearance but first since 2009. Neither team was ranked in the final AP poll and both are still searching for their elusive first title.

      8-Goodridge/Grygla-Gatzke (9-1) vs. 7-Ely (9-2) 1 p.m. Nov. 10 at Concordia College, Moorhead: The No. 7-ranked Chargers of Goodridge/Grygla Gatzke return after a one-year absence to make their fourth appearance. Goodridge/Grygla-Gatzke is still in the hunt for its first state title. The Timberwolves of Ely are also making their fourth tournament appearance. Their last was in 1988. Ely was not ranked in the final poll and has never won a state title.

      4-Wheaton/Herman-Norcross (9-2) vs. 3-Clinton-Graceville-Beardsley (10-0) 1 p.m. Nov. 10 at Big Cat Stadium, Morris: The Warriors of Wheaton/Herman-Norcross are making their second consecutive and overall appearance as a co-op. They placed second in 2011. Wheaton made eight appearances between 1989 and 2007 and Herman made one additional appearance in 1977. The Warriors were not ranked in the final AP poll. The Wolverines of Clinton-Graceville-Beardsley, who were the top team in the final AP poll, return to tournament action after a one-year absence. They are making their third appearance under this name. Clinton-Graceville made one appearance in 1993, Beardsley/Valley made one appearance in 1986, and Graceville made two appearances in 1979 and 1982. Neither team has won a state title.

      Class A Quarterfinal Highlights

      Three teams return from the 2011 field: the defending champions from Dawson-Boyd, Mahnomen, and Sleepy Eye St. Mary's. Bethlehem Academy of Faribault is the only team making its first appearance and two teams come in with perfect records. Bethlehem Academy and St. Clair were the only teams to meet during regular-season play. St. Clair won that contest 13-6 in a double-overtime thriller.

      6-Browerville (9-2) vs. 5-Dawson-Boyd (10-1) 7 p.m. Nov. 9 at Big Cat Stadium, Morris: Browerville, which includes students from St. John Vianney Academy of Long Prairie, is making its ninth appearance. They made their last in 2000. The Tigers were not ranked in the final AP poll and have never won a state championship. The defending champions from Dawson-Boyd return for their second consecutive and overall appearance. They were ranked No. 3 in this year's final poll.

      2-Sleepy Eye St. Mary's (10-0) vs. 1-Bethlehem Academy, Faribault (9-2) 6 p.m. Nov. 10 at Rochester Community & Technical College: The No. 2-ranked Knights of Sleepy Eye St. Mary's return for their second consecutive and fourth overall appearance. The Knights, who have never won a state title, lost in the semifinals in 2011. The unranked Cardinals of Bethlehem Academy are making their debut appearance.

      8-Mahnomen (11-0) vs. 7-Barnum (9-2) Noon Nov. 10 at Public School Stadium, Duluth: The No. 1-ranked Indians of Mahnomen return to make their third consecutive and 21st overall appearance. They earned runner-up honors in 2011. They are looking for their seventh state title, having won previously in 1980, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, and 1998. Unranked Barnum returns after a one-year absence to make its third appearance. The Bombers are looking for their first championship.

      4-Atwater-Cosmos-Grove City (8-2) vs. 3-St. Clair (9-2) 7 p.m. Nov. 9 at Southwest Minnesota State University, Marshall: The Atwater-Cosmos-Grove City Falcons, who were ranked No. 8 in the final AP poll, return for their fourth appearance after a one-year hiatus. The Falcons won one previous title in 2001. Atwater made one additional appearance in 1978. The No. 10-ranked Cyclones of St. Clair are making their fifth appearance, but first since 1992. They also won their only championship in 1992.

      Class AA Quarterfinal Highlights

      The two-time defending champions from Caledonia return in search of more gold. Moose Lake/Willow River is the only other school to return from the 2011 field. All of the teams have previous tournament experience and four boast perfect records. Mayer Lutheran and Sibley East of Arlington were the only two Class AA teams that met during the regular season and Mayer Lutheran won that game 43-14.

      6-Holdingford (10-1) vs. 5-BOLD, Olivia (10-0) 7 p.m. Nov. 8 at St. Cloud State University: The unranked Huskers of Holdingford return after an 11-year absence to make their 10th appearance. If the Huskers win it would be their second championship; they won their first in 1981. The Warriors of BOLD are making their ninth appearance under this name, but first since 2004. Olivia also made one additional appearance in 1980. BOLD is in the hunt for its third title, having won previously in 1990 and 1991. The Warriors were ranked No. 4 in this year's final AP poll.

      2-Sibley East, Arlington (9-1) vs. 1-Caledonia (10-0) 7 p.m. Nov. 9 at Burnsville High School: The Sibley East Wolverines are making their second appearance, but first since 1986. They tied for No. 8 in the AP poll and are in the hunt for their first championship. The two-time defending champions from Caledonia return for their sixth consecutive and ninth overall appearance. In addition to the past two years, they also won championships in 1976, 2007 and 2008. They were ranked No. 1 in this year's final AP poll.

      8-Hawley (11-0) vs. 7-Moose Lake/Willow River (8-2) 8 p.m. Nov. 9 at St. Cloud State University: The Hawley Nuggets, who were ranked No. 5 in the AP poll, return to tournament action after a two-year hiatus. This year marks their 13th appearance. The Rebels of Moose Lake/Willow River, who were No. 2 in the final AP poll, are making their seventh consecutive and eighth overall appearance under this name. Moose Lake made one appearance in 1977. Last year Moose Lake/Willow River earned runner-up honors. Neither team has won a state title.

      4-Mayer Lutheran (10-1) vs. 3-Jackson County Central (9-2) 7 p.m. Nov. 9 at Chaska High School: Mayer Lutheran is making its fifth appearance. The Crusaders, who made their last appearance in 2000, are looking for their first title. The Huskies of Jackson County Central are making their fourth appearance under this name, but first since 2001. They also won their last title that year. Jackson made two additional appearances in 1985 and 1989 and also won a championship in 1985. Neither team was ranked in the final AP poll.

      Class AAA Quarterfinal Highlights

      Four teams return from the 2011 field: the defending champions from St. Croix Lutheran of West St. Paul, Annandale, Perham, and Blue Earth Area. Blue Earth Area competed in Class AA last year. All of the teams have previous tournament experience and only two teams have perfect records. Annandale and New London-Spicer were the only teams to meet during regular-season play and Annandale won that contest 28-21, and they will face off again in the quarterfinals.

      6-New London Spicer (7-4) vs. 5-Annandale (9-1) Noon Nov. 10 at St. Cloud State University: The unranked Wildcats of New London-Spicer are making their third appearance, but first since 2009. They also won their only title in 2009. The Annandale Cardinals return for the second consecutive and overall appearance. They lost in the semifinals last year and were ranked No. 6 in this year's final AP poll.

      2-Jordan (4-7) vs. 1-Rochester Lourdes (1109) 7 p.m. Nov. 9 at East Ridge High School, Woodbury: The Jordan Hubmen, who were not ranked in the final poll, return for their first appearance since 1994. This is their fourth overall appearance. Jordan won one previous championship in 1983. Top-ranked Rochester Lourdes returns after a one-year absence to make its ninth appearance. The Eagles won previous titles in 1979 and 2010.

      8-Perham (9-1) vs. 7-Esko (8-2) 3 p.m. Nov. 10 at Public School Stadium, Duluth: The Yellowjackets of Perham are making their second consecutive and sixth overall appearance. They lost in the quarterfinals of the 2011 tournament and were ranked No. 5 in this year's final AP poll. Perham has never won a state title. The unranked Esko Eskomos return for their 10th appearance, but first since 2005. They won one previous championship in 1975.

      4-St. Croix Lutheran, West St. Paul (9-1) vs. 3-Blue Earth Area (10-0) 6 p.m. Nov. 10 at Lakeville North High School: The defending champions from St. Croix Lutheran are making their second consecutive and third overall appearance. They came in at No. 3 in this year's final poll. The No 2-ranked Buccaneers of Blue Earth Area are making their second consecutive and fourth overall appearance under this name. Blue Earth made one additional appearance in 1972. The Buccaneers lost in the quarterfinals of the Class AA tournament in 2011 and are still looking for their first title.

      Class AAAA Quarterfinal Highlights

      Two of last year's qualifying teams return: Hill-Murray of Maplewood and Holy Family Catholic of Victoria. Holy Family Catholic competed in Class AAA last year. A new champion will emerge as the defending champions from Rocori of Cold Spring did not qualify this year. All of the teams have previous tournament experience and three teams boast unblemished records.

      6-DeLaSalle, Minneapolis (10-0) vs. 5-Becker (9-1) 7 p.m. Nov. 9 at Hopkins High School: The top-ranked DeLaSalle Islanders are making their eighth appearance. They made their last in 2010, which is also the year they won their only championship. The Islanders did not face any other qualifiers during the regular season. The Becker Bulldogs, who were ranked No. 6 in the final AP poll, are making their 13th appearance. Their last appearance was in 2006 and they won one previous title in 2005. During regular-season play, Becker defeated Princeton 27-20.

      2-Hutchinson (10-0) vs. 1-Kasson-Mantorville (9-1) 7 p.m. Nov. 9 at Chanhassen High School: The No. 2-ranked Tigers of Hutchinson are making their 17th appearance under this name. They won previous championships in 1983, 1984, and 1998. Hutchinson also made three consecutive appearances as a co-op with New Century Charter School between 2003 and 2005. The Tigers defeated Holy Family Catholic 60-7 this season. The Komets of Kasson-Mantorville are making their ninth appearance, but first since 2009. They were No. 8 in this year's final poll. Kasson-Mantorville did not face any other tournament qualifiers this year and is still in the hunt for its first title.

      8-Detroit Lakes (10-0) vs. 7-Princeton (7-4) 3 p.m. Nov. 10 at St. Cloud State University: The Detroit Lakes Lakers return for their 12th appearance, but first since 2002. They were ranked No. 3 in the final AP poll and are looking for their fifth state title. They won previously in 1992, 1993, 1995 and 2001. The Lakers did not play any other qualifiers during the regular season. The unranked Princeton Tigers are making their sixth appearance, but first since 2005. This year they lost to Becker 27-20. Princeton has never won a state title.

      4-Hill-Murray, Maplewood (8-2) vs. 3-Holy Family Catholic, Victoria (8-3) 7 p.m. Nov. 9 at Macalester College, St. Paul: The Pioneers of Hill-Murray are making their second consecutive and fourth overall appearance. They lost in the semifinals of last year's tournament and were ranked No. 10 in this year's final AP poll. The Pioneers did not play any other qualifiers during the regular season. The unranked Fire of Holy Family Catholic return for their third consecutive and fourth overall appearance. They lost in the quarterfinals of the 2011 Class AAA tournament. This season they lost to Hutchinson 60-7.

      Class AAAAA Quarterfinal Highlights

      Four qualifiers return from the 2011 field: Mankato West, Moorhead, Bemidji, and Totino-Grace of Fridley. Bemidji and Mankato West both competed in Class AAAA last year. Three teams have unblemished records and all of them have previous tournament experience. A new champion will emerge this year since the defending champions from Eden Prairie qualified for the new Class AAAAAA tournament.

      6-Elk River (6-5) vs. 5-St. Thomas Academy, Mendota Heights (9-1) 7 p.m. Nov. 9 at Osseo High School: The Elk River Elks, who were not ranked in the final AP poll, return for their sixth appearance. They made their last appearance in 1992 and they're still looking for their first title. During regular-season play this year Elk River lost to Totino-Grace 35-0. St. Thomas Academy returns to tournament action after a one-year hiatus. The No. 4-ranked Cadets are making their 21st appearance. They won one previous championship in 1975 and did not face any other qualifiers this year.

      2-Mankato West (4-6) vs. 1-Owatonna (10-0) 7 p.m. Nov. 9 at Lakeville North High School: The unranked Scarlets of Mankato West, who competed in Class AAAA last year, return for their fifth consecutive and eighth overall appearance. They lost in the semifinals in 2011. The Scarlets are looking for their fifth title, having won previously in 1999, 2002, and 2008. Owatonna is making its fourth appearance, but first since 1999. The Huskies were ranked No. 3 in the final AP poll and are in the hunt for their first championship. Neither team faced any other qualifiers this year.

      8-Moorhead (10-0) vs. 7-Bemidji (8-3) 6 p.m. Nov. 10 at St. Cloud State University: These two teams met during the regular season with Moorhead winning 34-30. The Spuds of Moorhead are making their second consecutive and 14th overall appearance. They lost in the quarterfinals last year and won one previous title in 1987. They came in at No. 5 in this year's final AP poll. The unranked Bemidji Lumberjacks, who placed second in Class AAAA last year, return for their fourth consecutive appearance. This is their sixth overall appearance. Neither team faced any other qualifiers during the regular season.

      4-Totino-Grace, Fridley (10-0) vs. 3-Apple Valley (8-2) 7 p.m. Nov. 9 at Griffin Stadium, St. Paul: The Eagles of Totino-Grace, who were No. 1 in the final poll, are making their fourth consecutive and 22nd overall appearance. They lost in the semifinals of the Class AAAA tournament in 2011. If they win, it would be their ninth championship. They won previously in 1977, 1978, 2003, 2004, 2006, 2007, 2009, and 2010. The Apple Valley Eagles, who are making their 11th appearance, were ranked No. 9 in the final AP poll. They made their last appearance and won their only title in 1993. Neither team faced any other qualifiers during regular-season play.

Class AAAAAA Quarterfinal Highlights

      This is the first year that a largest and seventh class was added to the tournament format. The Class AAAAAA tournament is also the first to be seeded. The seeding process had all eight coaches of the section qualifiers log onto a special page of the League Web site. Each coach then ranked the other teams one through seven. The highest and lowest rankings for each team were discarded, leaving five rankings for each team. From those rankings, the top five teams were seeded. In a conference call with all eight head coaches, League Associate Director Kevin Merkle announced the top five seeds. A coaches association representative then blindly drew three teams to establish the opponent for the top three seeded teams. Numbers four and five automatically play each other.

      The qualifiers for Class AAAAAA were determined by cross-over games between sections, a format unlike all of the other classes. The pairings were determined by matching the highest seeded team from each section against the lowest seeded team of the other; then second highest to second lowest; then third highest to third lowest; and finally fourth highest to fourth lowest. The higher seeded team from either section hosted the final game. The eight teams that emerged from these cross-over qualifying games earned a state tournament berth and were then seeded.

      Four teams return from the 2011 Class AAAAA field: the defending champions from Eden Prairie, Lakeville North, Prior Lake, and Wayzata. All of the teams have previous tournament experience and there are no perfect records. All Class AAAAAA state tournament quarterfinals will be played at the Metrodome.

      Rosemount (6-4) vs. (No. 1 Seed) Edina (9-1) 5 p.m. Nov. 8: The unranked Irish of Rosemount return after a one-year absence to make their seventh appearance. They won one previous championship in 1981. During the regular season Rosemount lost to Eden Prairie 34-7, lost to Prior Lake 17-7, and lost to Lakeville North 35-0. The Edina Hornets return for their second appearance, but first since 1981. Edina West also made one additional appearance in 1978 that resulted in a championship. This year's team was ranked No. 1 in the final AP poll. The Hornets defeated three tournament qualifiers during the regular season: Minnetonka 27-20, Wayzata 20-17, and Eden Prairie 17-6.

      (No. 5 Seed) Lakeville North (9-1) vs. (No. 4 Seed) Prior Lake (9-1) 8 p.m. Nov. 8: This is a rematch of a regular-season game that Prior Lake won 10-6. The Panthers of Lakeville North, who were tied for No. 4 on the final AP poll, are making their second consecutive and fourth overall appearance. In addition to Prior Lake, Lakeville North also defeated Eastview 24-7 and Rosemount 35-0 during the regular season. No. 8-ranked Prior Lake returns for its second consecutive and overall appearance. The Lakers defeated both Rosemount 17-7 and Eastview 34-17 this year. Both Lakeville North and Prior Lake lost in the quarterfinals of the 2011 tournament.

      Eastview, Apple Valley (7-3) vs. (No. 2 Seed) Wayzata (8-1) 5 p.m. Nov 9: These teams met during the regular season with Wayzata winning 24-7. The unranked Eastview Lightning made their last appearance in 2009 and this is their fifth overall. They have never won a state title. Eastview lost to two other qualifiers during regular-season play: Lakeville North 24-7 and Prior Lake 34-17. The Wayzata Trojans, who earned runner-up honors last year, are making their sixth consecutive and 12th overall appearance. They were ranked No. 2 in this year's final AP poll. During the regular season Wayzata defeated Minnetonka 14-0 and Eden Prairie 16-0, and lost to Edina 20-17. The Trojans are looking for their fourth championship. They won previously in 2005, 2008, and 2010.

      Minnetonka (5-5) vs. (No. 3 Seed) Eden Prairie (8-2) 8 p.m. Nov. 9: These teams met during regular-season play and Eden Prairie won 42-7. The unranked Minnetonka Skippers return for their second appearance. They made their last appearance and won their only championship in 2004. In addition to Eden Prairie, the Skippers also lost to Edina 27-20 and Wayzata 14-0 this year. The No 7-ranked Eagles of Eden Prairie are making their eighth consecutive and 16th overall appearance. They took top honors last year and also won titles in 1996, 1997, 2000, 2002, 2006, and 2007. The Eagles lost to Edina 17-6 and Wayzata 16-0 during the regular season.

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