Friday's prep football playoff games
CLOQUET (9-0) VS. NORTH BRANCH (7-2)
What: Section 7AAAA final
When: 7 p.m.
Where: Public Schools Stadium
Outlook: Cloquet's balanced offense starts with signal-caller Tim Pokornowski, who's had quite a fall. The senior is up to 1,218 yards passing and 14 TDs — against four interceptions — while connecting on 80 of 138 attempts. He's rushed for 633 yards, second-most on the Lumberjacks behind Spencer Wehr (687, nine TDs). Aahsan Maigag has added 452 yards and 10 TDs on the ground. Mitchell Gerlach (24 receptions, 404 yards, four TDs) and Joshua Bushey (17-255, five) are Pokornowski's main targets. Cloquet is averaging 38.6 points a game. The team's defense allows just 11.3 points a night (19 total the past four weeks). The top-seeded Lumberjacks, seeking their fourth state tournament berth since 2013, defeated North Branch 32-28 on Sept. 22. Cloquet coach Tom Lenarz has a career record of 74-70. ... When No. 2 North Branch is on offense, Aaron Robillard usually has the ball in his hands. The QB has completed 98 of 186 passes for 1,266 yards and 12 TDs, and he's been even more prolific running, with 128 carries for 1,709 yards (13.4 average) and 25 TDs. He rushed for 240 yards and four scores in last week's 29-6 win over Grand Rapids. Tyler Adams boasts 795 rushing yards. Darien Fair and Nick Hunziker both are over 400 yards receiving. The Vikings' 42.8 points-per-game average is second in Class AAAA. No. 2 North Branch never has won a section title. Whoever wins tonight faces either Big Lake or Becker in the state quarterfinals Nov. 10 in St. Cloud.
Radio: WKLK-AM 1230
NORTH WOODS (8-1) VS. COOK COUNTY (9-1)
What: Section 7 Nine-Man final
When: 4:45 p.m.
Outlook: North Woods, the No. 1 seed, is hunting for its first state tournament appearance — though Orr went three times between 1997-2009 before merging with Cook. QB Tate Olson (80-for-144, 1,516 yards, 15 TDs), Brendan Parson (140 carries, 1,264 yards, 18 TDs) and Tanner Barto (45 receptions, 704 yards, four TDs) drive an offense that scores 41.9 points a night. Parson also has five interceptions on defense. The Grizzlies slipped past Cook County 39-30 on Sept. 22 during their current eight-game winning streak. ... Tradition-rich Cook County hasn't been to state since 2007. The Vikings three-peated atop Class A from 1997-99 during a run of eight straight tournament trips. Ethan Sporn comes in with 1,403 rushing yards and 19 TDs. QB Josh Prom is at 927 and 15, with another 491 yards through the air. On the other side of the ball, where Dillon Sjogren is the leading tackler with 86, Cook County allows a best-in-class 8.3 points a night. The Vikings have four shutouts and have yielded eight points or less in eight games. Either Nevis or Norman County East/Ulen-Hitterdal will face tonight's winner in the state quarterfinals Nov. 10 in Bemidji.
CROMWELL-WRIGHT (10-0) VS. WRENSHALL (8-2)
What: Section 5 Nine-Man final
When: 7:30 p.m.
Outlook: Many expected Cromwell-Wright to regress after losing so many seniors from the 2016 juggernaut that advanced to the state semifinals and participated in the first prep football game ever played at U.S. Bank Stadium. Not quite. The top-seeded Cardinals are scoring 47.4 points per game and allowing 9.8. Their QB, Drew Libbon, has passed for 866 yards and 10 TDs, while rushing for 472 and 13. Nic Johnson has piled up 19 TDs and 1,205 yards on 89 carries (13.5 average). Defensively, Libbon is the top tackler with 134, Jaden Gronner has amassed 13 sacks and Cameron Cahoon has intercepted seven passes. Cahoon also has 681 rushing yards. Cromwell-Wright upended Wrenshall 39-8 in the regular-season finale. Jeff Gronner is 122-36 in 14 seasons as Cardinals coach. ... The Wrens are in their first section final since 2014, when they lost to Cromwell-Wright 40-20 at Esko. They go as the Kelley brothers go. Senior Tyler Kelley (129 carries, 1,504 yards, 27 TDs) and junior Jared Kelley (167-1,766, 19) have been fun to watch. Tyler has blown up in the playoffs, running for 490 yards and scoring 11 TDs the past two weeks. No. 2 Wrenshall has put up 111 points in the postseason after thumping Floodwood 54-12 in the semifinals. Awaiting the winner of this one in a Nov. 10 state quarterfinal at Bemidji State is either Stephen-Argyle or Kittson County Central.
Radio: WKLK-FM 96.5