Friday's prep football playoff games
CLOQUET (10-0) VS. BECKER (7-4)
What: Class AAAA state tournament quarterfinal
When: 8 p.m.
Where: Husky Stadium, St. Cloud State
Outlook: Of its four trips to state since 2013, this might be Cloquet's best shot to push past the quarterfinals. Quarterback Tim Pokornowski, who's received a scholarship offer from Minnesota Duluth, has connected on 86 of 148 pass attempts for 1,298 yards and 15 TDs, not to mention his 704 rushing yards. Spencer Wehr (147 carries, 905 yards, 15 TDs), plus linemen Dylan Lauer and Bryce Turnbull, also are high-end college prospects. Versatile Mitchell Gerlach has 27 catches for 431 yards and four TDs. Tom Lenarz is 75-70 through 14 seasons as Lumberjacks coach. ... Cloquet's opening opponent might not have an unblemished record or top-10 ranking, but Becker has all kinds of tradition. Its coach, Dwight Lundeen, is one of Minnesota's winningest, with a 355-152-3 record in 47 seasons. Lundeen started the school's football program in 1970, and he's been there ever since, winning three state titles (2005, 2014 and 2015) in 15 appearances. Speedy Sidney Boros (200 carries, 1,614 yards, 11 TDs) averages 8.1 yards per touch for the Bulldogs. Sophomore QB Josh Fobbe (88-152, 1,216 yards, 15 TDs) and receiver Lucas Dertinger (43-593, nine TDs) have formed a productive partnership. Tonight's winner meets either Marshall or South St. Paul on Nov. 17 at U.S. Bank.
Quotable: Lenarz, on the upper class of Class AAAA: "Becker's in that conversation. And, right now, we've certainly made a little bit of noise, but we haven't won that first game, so Cloquet's not in that conversation yet. That's what we hope to do on Friday, is maybe join some top-tier teams."
• Gerlach, on getting past the quarterfinals: "It's a big deal for us. That was our main goal coming into this year, trying to get to the Bank and get over that first-game hump."
Radio: WKLK-AM 1230
MLWR (6-5) VS. WEST CENTRAL AREA (7-4)
What: Class AA state tournament quarterfinal
When: 7 p.m.
Where: Brainerd High School
Outlook: Moose Lake-Willow River rebounded from a 2-5 record to win four straight and secure perhaps its most improbable state berth. The Rebels, who reached every tournament from 2006-15, qualified for the 12th time overall. They have the fewest victories of any team in the bracket, but MLWR comes in on a roll, outscoring its past four opponents by a combined 124-34. Colton Little (112 carries, 779 yards, eight TDs) and Trent Juhl (129-753, six) lead the rushing attack, while Anakin Oswald (117-425) has produced six of his seven TDs the past two games. QB Ian Coil adds an aerial threat seldom seen with the Rebels, having completed 54 of 135 passes for 608 yards and four scores. MLWR has lost three straight quarterfinals since reaching the 2012 title game, where it fell in agonizing fashion to Caledonia. Rebels coach Dave Louzek is 175-43 in 19 seasons. ... Like tonight's opponent, West Central Area didn't overwhelm anyone with its regular-season brilliance. The Knights were 4-4 entering the Section 6AA playoffs. On offense, West Central Area throws often — with QB Ross Anderson averaging about 22 passes a night. He's completed 136 of 236 attempts for 1,813 yards and 23 TDs. The senior produced a 414-yard outing earlier this season. Kaden Spindler has hauled in 66 receptions for 785 yards and 10 TDs, while adding 401 rushing yards. Brady Sabolik (111 carries, 519 yards, three TDs) is the top runner. Before this fall, the Knights hadn't been above .500 since going 8-2 in 2006. From 2007 through last year, they were a combined 24-66. A win tonight seals a spot in the Nov. 17 semifinals at U.S. Bank Stadium vs. either Blue Earth Area or Pipestone Area.
Radio: WMOZ-FM 106.9