Class AAAA Section Darkhorses

High School
Minnesota

Posted On: 11/12/18 9:31 AM

It isn’t often that the team that isn’t the favorite in its respective section doesn’t ultimately win it. But upsets at the high school level certainly can happen. Here are teams from each section that could surprise.

Section 1AAAA: Rochester Mayo

Favorite: Lakeville North, Rochester John Marshall

It’s been so long since Lakeville North and Rochester JM didn’t play in the section final that picking a darkhorse in this one feels weird. But Rochester Mayo might have the ability to surprise one of those teams come the end of the year. Gabe and Mason Madsen are two of the best in the state and the Spartans have a number of capable returners around them.

Section 2AAAA: Shakopee

Favorite: Eden Prairie, Prior Lake

Talk about a bear of a section. Eden Prairie, Prior Lake, Edina and Chaska will all probably break 20 wins and could realistically win the section. Shakopee was one of the younger teams in Class AAAA last year and ended up winning 14 games. With Charlie Katona, Will Cordes and Caleb Druvenga, the Sabers have the firepower to scare all those teams.

Section 3AAAA: Park of Cottage Grove

Favorite: Eastview

Eastview and Apple Valley will probably duke it out for the top two seeds in this section but a team that could be sneaky tough is Park of Cottage Grove. The Wolfpack were the No. 7 seed last year, winning just six games. But the duo of Charlie Gorres and Domenik Block is really solid and they’ve got a nice group of complementary pieces back too.

Section 4AAAA: White Bear Lake

Favorite: East Ridge

East Ridge might be the best team in the state and Cretin-Derham Hall isn’t going to fall too far but White Bear Lake could give them both a score. Sam Schwartz and Jeremy Beckler are a handful of a duo up front and the Bears showed a lot of improvement over the course of last year particularly on the defensive end of the floor.

Section 5AAAA: Centennial

Favorite: Park Center, Champlin Park

Centennial was the No. 7 seed last year and won just five games but the Cougars lost an abnormally high number of close contests. With Ricky Eason back running the point and Carter Anderson joining him on the wing, that team should be improved. And by the time postseason comes around, they could be dangerous.

Section 6AAAA: Robbinsdale Armstrong

The Falcons were planning on having Race Thompson last season but had to regroup after his decision to reclassify out of his senior year. Armstrong rebounded nicely and went 12-16 last year, showing a lot of progress as the year went on. With Jake Breitbach, Adam Biewen and Cole Priem back leading the way, the Falcons could be good enough to give Hopkins or Wayzata a scare in the postseason.

Favorite: Hopkins

Section 7AAAA: Coon Rapids

Favorite: Cambridge-Isanti

The Cardinals earned the No. 5 seed last year and while Cambridge-Isanti is probably the favorite going into the year, Coon Rapids returns four of its top seven guys including Marshall Holland and Shyron Sayers. They might take a few more losses than some of the other teams in their section because of the conference they play in, but the Cardinals should be well-tested by the time the postseason comes around.

Section 8AAAA: Buffalo

Favorite: Maple Grove

The Bison were something of a darkhorse last year, earning the No. 6 seed in the section before upsetting Rogers and beating Moorhead on the way to the section championship game. Buffalo shouldn’t sneak up on anybody this year but earning a section title still means beating Maple Grove. With Matt Willert, Tony Dahl and a terrific crop of juniors, Buffalo has more than enough talent to knock them out.