MOOSE LAKE-WILLOW RIVER (8-2) VS. PAYNESVILLE AREA (9-1)
What: Class AA state quarterfinal
When: 7 p.m.
Where: North Branch High School
Outlook: The Rebels reached their 15th overall state tournament and 13th in the last 14 years by routing Mesabi East 36-8 in the Section 7AA final. Junior running back Blake Juhl (137 carries, 870 yards, 12 TDs) had 163 yards on 22 attempts and scored twice. While the Rebels seek to get Juhl going early, they are passing like never before in Dave Louzek’s two decades at the helm. Junior quarterback Mason Olson (109 completions, 194 attempts, 1,418 yards, 18 TDs) has several receivers to which he spreads the ball around, including junior Brady Watrin (31 receptions, 353 yards), senior Eli Werner (22-305) and junior Carter Johnson (16-325). Then there’s sophomore Logan Orvedahl, who made a ridiculous one-handed grab against Mesabi East that made SportsCenter’s Top 10 list. MLWR, which outscored foes by 32-12 on average this season, was routed 40-0 by Barnesville in last season’s quarterfinals. The Rebels were state runners-up three times in four years (2009-12). … The Bulldogs edged Eden Valley-Watkins 28-21 to capture their third consecutive Section 5AA title and earn a fifth trip to the state tournament (the others came in 1979 and 2011). Senior Daltin Christinsen (140-1,017, 13 TDs) has averaged more than 100 yards rushing per game, while senior quarterback Grady Fuchs (106-697, 8 TDs) has scored three times in two playoff games. Fuchs (93-for-173, 1,412 yards) has an 18-to-6 touchdown-to-interception ratio. His top receiver, senior Levi Bast (43-866, 7 TDs), is averaging 106 yards per playoff game. Paynesville outscores opponents 36-11 on average. The winner faces either Minneapolis North or Blue Earth Area in the semifinals.
Radio: WMOZ-FM 106.9
MOUNTAIN IRON-BUHL (9-1) VS. SOUTH RIDGE (8-2)
What: Nine-Man state quarterfinal
When: 7 p.m.
Where: Public Schools Stadium
Outlook: The Rangers scored 34 consecutive points to rip Silver Bay 34-14 in the Section 7 final. Freshman QB Asher Zubich, who has more than 1,000 yards rushing and 1,400 yards passing this season, accounted for two rushing TDs and two through the air. Both touchdown passes were to senior Aidan Bissonette, who has eight TD grabs for the season. Senior Dillon Drake (15 TDs) rushed for more than 100 yards against Silver Bay to go over 1,000 on the season. The Rangers average 45.3 points per game, second-best among Nine-Man teams. This marks MIB’s 10th overall state tournament, which began with a Class B championship during the first state tournament in 1972. The Rangers won their quarterfinal in overtime a year ago before falling 42-8 to Mountain Lake Area in the semifinals. … The Panthers jumped out to a 30-0 first-quarter lead en route to a 57-20 victory over McGregor in the Section 5 final. Junior RB Connor Bushbaum (145-1,154, 18 TDs) had 180 of his 184 rushing yards in the opening 12 minutes. Senior Nick Larson added another 100-plus yards to South Ridge’s 508-yard total. Seniors Logan Young (73-442) and Matt Clark (62-425) are other dependable options on the ground. QB Riley Kinsley has thrown just one interception all season. South Ridge’s only previous state tournament since consolidating came in 2012, though Saginaw-based AlBrook made seven prior trips. The winner faces either Renville County West or Hancock.
Radio: WKLK-FM 96.5
STRATFORD (11-0) AT NORTHWESTERN (11-0)
What: Wisconsin Division 5 state quarterfinal
When: 7 p.m.
Outlook: In what has the appearance of a state title game, the second-seeded Stratford Tigers, winners of the Marawood Conference, clash with the top-seeded Northwestern Tigers, winners of the Heart O’North Conference. Stratford has outscored its opponents 595-0, including 251-0 in the first quarter. For the season, the team has allowed just 302 yards passing and minus-71 yards rushing (includes 23 quarterback sacks). Quarterback Max Schwabe (64-for-95, 1,008 yards, 20 TDs) guides the balanced offense. Vaughn Breit (14-267, 6 TDs) and Chase Flink (9-278) are the top wideouts, while Teddy Redman (618 yards, 11 TDs) and Matt Handrick (507 yards, 8 TDs) lead the rushing attack. Stratford has a 71-26 playoff record, winning a Division 5 state title in 1986, then six straight Division 6 titles from 2003-2008. Stratford returned to the Division 5 title game last season, losing 20-17 to St. Mary’s Springs Academy. … Northwestern is 36-24 in playoff games, winning a Division 3 championship in 1988. The Tigers opened the playoffs with wins over Nekoosa (41-0) and St. Croix Falls (42-7). Northwestern has four shutouts and allowed only 40 points in the first three quarters. Junior Colin Trautt (1,050 yards, 13 TDs) has rushed for 378 yards in the playoffs, while Brennen Werner (618 yards, 13 TDs), Bryson Mazur (548 yards, 4 TDs) and QB Jake Brill (517 yards, 6 TDs) spread the carries around. Brill (46-for-82, 1,029 yards, 16 TDs) has thrown seven TDs to Dayne Evenson (21-366) and five to Mazur (9-365). Each team played Spooner, with Stratford beating the Rails 63-0 in a first-round playoff game and Northwestern winning 28-14 in the season opener. The winner faces either Amherst or Chilton in the semifinals.
Radio: WNXR-FM 107.3