Wayzata players received the Bay Bell trophy, symbol of the Lake Minnetonka rivalry between the Trojans and Minnetonka. Wayzata defeated the Skippers 14-0 Friday. Photo: GLEN STUBBE * firstname.lastname@example.org
With Wayzata staff at his side, Wayzata running back Mitch Underhill sat in pain on the sidelines in the second half after leaving the game appearing to have injured the knee that sustained a torn ACL last season. Photo: GLEN STUBBE * gstubbe@startribune.
Wayzata senior linebacker Will Long had teammates cheering his game-changing touchdown and later led them in a solemn tribute to the Trojans’ injured star.
With host Minnetonka threatening to score late in the first half, Long took an interception 89 yards for a touchdown the other way. The Class 2A, No. 2 Trojans did not relinquish their 14-0 lead over the ninth-ranked Skippers.
The Trojans (4-0) must now wait to learn the status of running back Mitch Underhill, who left the game in the fourth quarter. Trainers looked at Underhill’s right knee, the same one in which he suffered a torn ACL that cost him most of the 2011 season.
“You hate to see a kid that worked so hard to come back get hurt,” Wayzata coach Brad Anderson said. “He’ll see the doctor tomorrow and we’ll hope it’s nothing serious.”
After the game, Long and his teammates came to Underhill and did the team breakdown cheer. Underhill sat on the bench with his right leg straight out.
The injury, however serious, put a damper on a night when Wayzata, while sloppy at times, held on for the shutout.
The Wayzata offense started with a flourish, going 78 yards on its opening drive and taking a 7-0 lead on Reid Pettersen’s quarterback dive from 1 yard out. The unit stammered through much of the first half, committing two turnovers.
“Credit Minnetonka’s defense,” Anderson said. “It’s hard to get in a rhythm when you’re turning it over.”
Minnetonka could relate. The Skippers (3-3) twice squandered good field position in the first half, taking the ball in Wayzata territory and failing to finish. A drive that started at Wayzata’s 48-yard line ended with a turnover on downs at the Trojans 14-yard line. A later drive that began at the Wayzata 33-yard line ended as quarterback Nick Rooney lost a fumble.
Rooney’s most costly mistake came with less than a minute before halftime. He threw toward the right flat and Long pounced, grabbing the ball with one hand and taking off down field. His touchdown with just 23 seconds remaining before halftime stunned the Skippers.
“They are going into score and you get a touchdown — that’s the play of the game,” Anderson said.
The Minnetonka defense also played tough. But the Skippers’ inability to extend drives with third-down conversions or to finish drives with points sealed the outcome.
“We learned a lot and I think our defense grew up tonight,” Skippers coach Dave Nelson said. “I think we’ll be a good team when it matters.”