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Minnesota high school football: Year in review

By Star Tribune, 11/22/14, 9:11PM CST


Staff writers David La Vaque and Jim Paulsen shared some of their favorite moments covering this fall’s high school football season.

Best game seen

David: You could feel an upset coming as Totino-Grace went ahead of three-time defending Prep Bowl champs Eden Prairie 21-7. Then you had to admire the way Eden Prairie fought back, scoring three times and knocking away a two-point try to win 28-27.


Jim: In what has quickly become the metro’s best rivalry, St. Michael-Albertville rallied from a two-touchdown fourth-quarter deficit to beat neighboring Rogers 22-21. The result was in doubt until Rogers missed a field-goal attempt in the closing seconds. It was the third consecutive thriller between the teams.

Favorite moment

David: Rosemount coach Jeff Erdmann walked away — with tears in his eyes — after his son was injured and his team lost. On the other end of the field, Lakeville North defensive end Tristyn Hanson explained — with tears in his eyes — how much it meant to win.


Jim: After Prior Lake fell to Maple Grove in the Class 6A quarterfinals, the Lakers players remained on the field at Minnetonka long after the victors had boarded buses to leave. Many cried and all hugged each other, a reminder that for every winner, there is also a loser and losing is never easy.

Favorite interview

David: A Bloomington Jefferson assistant coach summoned junior kicker Ryan Murray off the bus so Murray and I could discuss his 27-yard game-winning field goal in overtime against Cooper. Teammates kidded Murray about dropping their names in his responses.


Jim: Most of the Minnetonka players left the field quickly after their season-opening victory over Becker to attend a dance in the school gym. Running back Vance Barnes and defensive end Bryan Carlton both left their dates to give postgame interviews.

Best hosts

David: A member of St. Thomas Academy’s game day staff offered to buy me a hot dog, an unnecessary but nice gesture. After I received two hot dogs free of charge, he gave me a knowing grin and said, “Well, I would have bought.”


Jim: Minnesota State High School League journalist John Millea frequently tweets about his press box environs. One warm Friday night at St. Anthony, not 10 minutes after he had tweeted a picture, St. Anthony athletic director Troy Urdahl appeared at the door, taking orders for concessions and pointing out a well-stocked cooler of soda and water.

Favorite pregame

David: Few cooler sights exist than Avery Clifford, atop her pony, Ranger, charging the Stillwater field before the game. Clifford, a 2011 Stillwater graduate, competes in collegiate rodeo at Colorado State.


Jim: The headline act before Orono’s homecoming game against Hutchinson was Mama’s Boys, a group of seventh-graders from Orono Middle School. Playing their own instruments and deploying a sound man, they sang classic rock covers like “Hold On Loosely” and “Twist and Shout.” Incredibly cool.

Favorite number

David: 6, the number of times — five in the playoffs alone — I watched teams battle back from two-touchdown deficits to win. Most impressive: Backup Lakeville North quarterback Kyle Rhodus stunning No. 2 Rosemount with a pair of fourth-quarter touchdown passes.


Jim: 22, the number of carries for Eden Prairie running back Will Rains in the second half of the Eagles’ 13-7 playoff victory over Maple Grove. It keyed the Eagles’ comeback and drew my favorite quote of the season, courtesy of Mike Grant: “He put his shoulder down and brought the thunder.”

Favorite memory

David: St. Thomas Academy won 14 of the past 15 meetings but Simley prevailed 25-16 in the playoffs. Afterward, Simley students and parents jammed in the visitors’ bleachers joined players for an a cappella rendition of the school song.


Jim: No one was more thrilled by Wayzata’s 31-28 upset of Minnetonka in the playoffs than team manager Justin Evilsizer, a junior special-needs student who plays adapted sports for the Trojans. He beamed as Wayzata coach Brad Anderson put his arm around him and introduced him to me. He had me beaming, too.

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