Eden Prairie quarterback David Warren-Mitchell ran for a touchdown in the first half against Minnetonka. Photo: LEILA NAVIDI • email@example.com
Between the white lines, it was no different from many other fall Fridays. Football, 11-on-11, running and hitting and tackling, and an excess of emotion.
Eden Prairie, coming off a subpar 7-3 season in 2019, built a two-touchdown lead in the first quarter lead and cruised to a 34-7 victory at Minnetonka. It was the 11th consecutive loss for the Skippers, coming off an 0-9 season even more forgettable than the Eagles’ year.
But the first game for either team under the shadow of COVID-19 differed just about every other way.
In Minnetonka’s Einar Anderson Stadium, the allotted 250 fans easily got swallowed up in the surrounding emptiness. The once-raucous student section, where bench seats had been removed because no one sits anyway, was eerily devoid of life.
There were cheerleaders but no band. The stadium’s PA announcer and music coordinator tried to drum up spirit, but with fans split almost equally between teams, it seemed optimistic at best. Coaches could be heard clearly shouting instructions and players responded with endless exhortations of “let’s go.” On the sidelines, offensive linemen — normally bunched together on a bench taking a breather between shifts — were spaced 6 feet apart in separate chairs, like children being isolated to behave.
Eden Prairie quarterback David Warren-Mitchell threw three touchdown passes and ran for a fourth score as the Eagles smothered Minnetonka 34-7 in the teams’ season-opener.
The Eagles, coming off a rare three-loss season in 2019, led 14-0 after one quarter, with Warren-Mitchell rushing for the first score. He threw a 19-yard scoring pass to Cade Kramer for the other.
Kramer scored his second touchdown of the game on a 79-yard passing play in the third quarter. Earlier in the quarter Warren-Mitchell connected with Johnny Hartle on a 44-yard touchdown.
Eden Prairie’s Tyee Leske returned a Skippers’ punt 60 yards for a second-quarter touchdown.
The Skippers, playing at home in coach Mark Esch’s debut, broke through in the fourth quarter when William Richman ended an 80-yard drive with a 7-yard touchdown run.
Check back later for more on the game.