It doesn’t happen often in the Minnesota high school football scene, but two schools with a longstanding boys basketball rivalry in the Minneapolis City Conference find themselves in position to qualify for the state football playoffs next month.
The North Polars, led by Charles Adams, and the Patrick Henry Patriots, with Mark Heiser at the helm, have earned top seeds in their respective sections for the up-and-coming playoffs.
Both teams compiled 7-1 regular season records with Polars being selected as the No. 1 seed in Section 4AAA. The Patriots are in a similar position in Section 4AAAA.
This is not something that happens often in the Minneapolis City Conference where football is concerned. But when it comes to boys basketball, the North-Henry game has developed into one of the top rivalries in the state.
Quarterback Kai’an Darden, running back Kahlil Brown, and wide receiver Jmarion Sanders lead North’s high-scoring attack.
Their defense has been dominant during the regular season, thanks to defensive linemen Tommy Gilkey, Lamarcus Osborne, Azrie Yeager and Anaise Dotson. North’s defense also includes linebackers Cashmere Grunau, Michael Roberts IV, Brown and Stephan Jackson, and defensive backs Craig Merritt and Maleek Powell.
Henry’s offense is led by Davontae White-Sledge, running backs Ke’Tavion Colton and Rayshawn Williams, as well as receiver Gavin Villagomez.
Linemen Gabriel Valtierrez and Leevy Barron, linebackers Kamaal Terry, J’hakeem Scott and Lauren Juntunen, and defensive backs RJ Wyatt, Tremell Caldwell, Derek Grant, and Jadis Hartman lead the defense.
If all goes according to plan, the Minneapolis City Conference, as well as the city’s North Side, will be represented in the state playoffs.
North is hoping to make it to the state playoffs after not qualifying last season for the first time since 2014.
They won the Class A title in 2016, behind quarterback Tyler Johnson. Johnson went on to a stellar career as a receiver at the University of Minnesota and helped the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to a victory in Super Bowl LV in 2021.
Henry is seeking its first state playoff appearance.