Eagles Soar To Eighth State Football Championship
Eden Prairie repeats as Class 6A state champions with a 28-7 triumph over Lakeville North Friday in the Prep Bowl XXXI
Winning state championships never gets routine, said Eden Prairie head coach Mike Grant.
“It never does,” said Grant, "because every team is a different team. Every team is unique and this is a group of kids that I’ve known the seniors since third grade.
"Sunday night is our banquet, and it will be the last time they’re ever together," Grant added. "And Monday, we’ll have 100-some kids in the weight room getting ready for Elk River Thursday before Labor Day.”
So the beat goes on for the Eagles.
Grant has directed that beat for 30 years, taking the Eden Prairie Eagles to eight state titles in that span.
The Eagles won their eighth Prep Bowl crown Friday night in the Metrodome, combining a relentless ground-game offense and a punishing, opportunist defense to dispatch Lakeville North, 28-7.
It was Eden Prairie’s eighth football championship in 17 years, sixth since 2000 and a back-to-back title for the Eagles.
Eden Prairie outrushed Lakeville North 309 yards to 119 and outgained the Panthers 310 to 219 yards in total offense. Junior running back Dan Fisher led the offense, gaining 148 yards and scoring a touchdown on 31 carries.
On defense, the Eagles never let the Panthers get started until the outcome was in doubt. On Lakeville North’s first five possessions, three ended in punts and two by interceptions. The Eagles held the Panthers to just 21 plays in their first five possessions, forcing 3-and-out or less four times.
“I really thought, without looking at the film, it was really a team effort,” Grant said. “I thought our defense played really, really well, ran to the ball. We played fast. And offensively, we try to be, people think the running game is a slow kind of non-precision and our kids, our o-line, our backs, are very precise in their blocking and our backs ran hard.”
Unable to run the ball effectively, Lakeville North turned to its passing game, but the Eagles had an answer for that, too. Eden Prairie’s Jack Cottrell had two interceptions and Connor Johnson one to stop Lakeville North drives in the first, third and fourth quarters.
The Eagles took the opening kickoff and marched 77 yards in 11 plays to set the tone for the game. After an incomplete pass by Grant Shaeffer, the Eagles ran the ball 10 straight times before powering in for the score on a 3-yard burst by Fisher.
In the second quarter, Eden Prairie took over deep in their own territory but went on a dominating 14-play, 96-yard touchdown drive which burned 6:13 off the clock. Schaeffer scored on a five-yard run. The Eagles missed the extra point after a 15-yard penalty and took a 13-0 lead into the locker room at the half.
Eden Prairie outgained Lakeville North 214-63 in the first half. The Eagles won the time of possession, hanging on to the ball for 17:34 of the 24 minutes in the first two quarters.
It was more of the same in the second half. Using a clock-killing run-first philosophy, the Eagles went up 21-0 in the third quarter. Eden Prairie went on a nine-play, 53-yard drive, scoring its third touchdown on a 5-yard-run by senior running back Jacob Woodring. Eden Prairie went for two on the PAT and got it on a pass from Bjorn Halvorson.
Eden Prairie junior running back Anthony Anderson capped the scoring with a six-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter.
The Panthers finally got on the scoreboard with 1:17 to play, scoring on a 13-yard pass from Zach Creighton to Ben Blake.
Eden Prairie junior Charlie Venable rushed nine times for 69 yards. Eden Prairie converted 12-of-15 third down opportunities.
Lakeville North senior quarterback Creighton completed 12-of-20 passes for 100 yards and a touchdown. He also rushed for 79 yards on nine carries. Running back Jamiah Newell was keyed on by the Eagles and finished with 47 yards on 13 rushes.
Lakeville North, which was ranked No. 4 in the final Associated Press poll, finished the season 12-1.
Lakeville North 0 0 0 7 - 7
Eden Prairie 7 6 8 7 - 28
EP—Dan Fisher 3 yd run (Sam Mars kick) 7:35
EP—Grant Shaeffer 5 yd run (Sam Mars kick failed) 2:05
EP—Jacob Woodring 5 yd run (Zach Hovey pass from Bjorn Halvorson) 7:01
EP—A. Anderson 6 yd run (Sam Mars kick) 3:59
NORTH—Ben Blake 13 yd pass from Zach Creighton (Hunter Cobb kick) 1:17
Previous Eagles football coverage:
- Eden Prairie Wins The State Class 6A Championship
- Eden Prairie Defeats Wayzata in the State 6A Semifinals, 21-7
- Eden Prairie Defeats Minnetonka in the Class 6A Quarterfinals
- Eden Prairie Eagles Defeat Osseo Orioles, 28-18
- Eden Prairie Beats Shakopee 28-7 In Football Playoffs
- Eden Prairie Loses to Wayzata in High School Football, 16-0
- Eden Prairie loses to Edina, 17-6
- Eden Prairie Beats Minneapolis South, 42-0