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Prep football: Featured Games of the Week

For the second week of the season, the area football schedule is littered with big games with big implications.

Here’s a look a three matchups that could may significantly affect how the rest of the season unfolds.

Delano (1-0, 1-0) at New London-Spicer (1-0, 1-0)

This is the game of the week in the area. Delano, ranked No. 6 in the Associated Press Class AAAA poll this week, was 10-2 last year, with both losses coming against Class AAAAA champ Hutchinson. But the Tigers had a rough go-round with Dassel-Cokato last week, winning 13-12 against a team that was 2-8 last year. The Tigers beat D-C 41-9 in the 2013 opener.

NLS, the Class AAA state runner-up, is the AP’s top-ranked team in Class AAA and the Wildcats took down Waconia 39-12 to open this season last week. Taking out the No. 6 team from a class above them could only elevate the Wildcats’ confidence level in the tough Wright County Conference.

ACGC (1-0, 1-0) at Paynesville (1-0, 1-0)

ACGC played an impressive second half to give David Blom his first victory as a prep head coach. The Falcons scored 22 third-quarter points to swamped YME 34-7. The victory, combined with their history of excellence, earned the Falcons points in the Associated Press’ Class A poll this week.

Last year, ACGC lost at Paynesville to drop to 2-2 after a 2-0 start. But the Falcons then won their next five, allowing only 12 total points, so they won’t be shattered if things don’t go their way on Friday.

That’s good because there’s a good chance things won’t be all rosy later Friday night.

Paynesville looked to be in playoff form in its opener, winning 32-13 over perennial power BOLD in Olivia. And if the Bulldogs get through a difficult opening two weeks, the schedule is favorable for a run.

After ACGC, the Bulldogs play Melrose, YME, Sauk Centre, Minnewaska, Benson and Morris/Chokio-Alberta. Those six teams were a combined 20-36 last year and are 2-4 this year, with the only two teams with better than .500 records — Melrose and Minnewaska — winning last week.

Somehow, despite coming off a 10-1 season in which their only loss came against state runner-up Minneota, the Bulldogs are ranked No. 8 in Class AA this week in the AP poll.

BOLD (0-1, 0-1) at Minnewaska (1-0, 1-0)

The Warriors aren’t often in a must-win situation, but with Paynesville roaring along and ACGC seemingly solid again, that’s about where they are in the West Central South.

Star back Ben Steffel was held to 20 yards last week and it’s not likely that will happen often. If the Warriors can break him out, last week’s loss to the Bulldogs could fade quickly.

Minnewaska took care of Sauk Centre on the road last week, but even a banged-up Warriors team will be a different matter as the Lakers look to build on their victory.