Game of the Week: East Ridge vs. Woodbury football
GAME OF THE WEEK
Who: East Ridge vs. Woodbury football
What: Battle for the Golden Griffin; East Ridge Homecoming game
Where: East Ridge High School
When: Friday, Sept. 21, 7 p.m.
It's not just the game of the week, it's probably the game of the year in south Washington County.
The East Ridge and Woodbury football teams go head-to-head for a fourth time on Friday, Sept. 21, at 7 p.m.
"That's like Army/Navy or Princeton/Rutgers - that's what it's all about," East Ridge head coach Mike Pendino said. "It's the inter-district, inter-town rivalry. It doesn't get any better than that."
Roughly 5,000 people watched the first-ever game between the two Woodbury-based high schools in 2009. The Woodbury Royals currently hold a 2-1 edge in the battle for the Golden Griffin Trophy.
Last year's game was a doozy, with Woodbury pulling out a 35-34 double-overtime win - stopping the Raptors on a potential game-winning 2-point conversion.
This year, Woodbury enters the game - East Ridge's Homecoming game - with a 2-1 record. East Ridge is 1-2. The Royals are in a four-way tie for second place in the Suburban East Conference with White Bear Lake, Stillwater and Cretin-Derham Hall. Mounds View sits atop the conference with an unbeaten record after escaping with a 10-7 win last week over the Raptors.
The game features two of the SEC's top rushing defenses. Among the 10 teams, East Ridge is ranked No. 2 against the run, while Woodbury ranks No. 3. East Ridge is third overall in team defense, allowing an average of 252 yards per game to No. 4-ranked Woodbury, which has allowed a 260-yard average.
However, Woodbury also leads the SEC in total offense, averaging 398 yards per game.
The two Woodbury schools are also the most penalized teams in the SEC. The Raptors and the Royals have both accumulated 220 penalty yards through three weeks.
Leading the way for East Ridge and Woodbury will be running backs Nick Leach for the Raptors and Quran Al-Hameed for the Royals. Behind an all-junior offensive line led by captains Matt Kelly and Div. I prospect J.C. Hassenauer, Leach is third in the SEC in rushing yards with 345. Woodbury's Quran Al-Hameed leads the conference in rushing with 500 yards. Al-Hameed has 681 all-purpose yards, which is tops in the SEC for a non-quarterback to go along with 10 touchdowns - by far the best total in the conference.
Other players to keep an eye on are Woodbury senior quarterback Sawyer Moon and East Ridge freshman quarterback Seth Green, along with East Ridge junior tight end George Behr and Woodbury senior Abiola Abodunde. Seniors Chago Huerta and Ryan Winter anchor the Raptors and Royals defenses, respectively.