From the get-go, it was clear that this rivalry battle between two top 5 programs was going to be one tough-minded match up. Both team’s opening quarter play consisted of hard-nosed defense and a ground-and-pound mindset on the offensive end. This strategy was nothing new for the visiting Eagles, but for the Trojans, who are traditionally a spread-option team, this tactic proved to be a surprising move.
Senior back, Alec Underhill watched the game from the sideline with what seemed to be a lingering knee injury. His absence proved to be detrimental for the Trojans attack as it took away their ability to change pace in the backfield, and likely contributed to the team’s decision to pound the ball up the middle. Junior ball carrier, Christian Vasser, took on the workload at the running back position, handling all but one of the first half carries for the Trojans.
It took a whole quarter of play for either team to score, but it was the Eagles who struck first on an 18 yard pass to wide receiver, Jackson Burke. Wayzata’s offense was quick to respond, and ultimately one-up Eden Prairie, as senior wide out, Connor Hale, hauled in a 55 yard bomb from quarterback Keaton Heide. The Trojans struggled to maintain this momentum as some killer penalties wiped out a few big gains for their attack. Eden Prairie capitalized on the final drive of the second quarter, making it 14-7 at the half.
The third quarter opened sourly for the Trojans, as it took just three plays for the Eagles to bounce one off for a 46 yard touchdown run. Now down two scores after three straight scoring drives for Eden Prairie, Wayzata’s offense faced some adversity. Relying heavily on production from running back Christian Vasser, the Trojans looked to tire the Eden Prairie defense one downhill run at a time. This wear and tear strategy proved successful for the Trojans as Vasser beat the Eagles defense to the edge and scored from the 14 yard line.
Now a one score game, the Trojan defense stepped up in a big way. After a quick three-and-out, the Eagles muffed a punt and set the Trojan offense up with excellent field position. Starting at Eden Prairie’s 14 yard line, the Trojans quickly capitalized and scored on a dart from Heide to Hanlin. Both offenses continued to trade shots for the remainder of the fourth quarter. First, Eden Prairie drove the ball down the field and scored on a run from inside the five, but their lead didn’t last as the Wayzata quickly responded with a drive of their own, capped off by a 14 yard touchdown from tailback, Christian Vasser.
Tied at 28 a piece late in the fourth quarter, this offensive bout went down to the wire. As they did throughout the entirety of second half, both offenses marched down the field to trade scores. Wayzata converted from inside the five on a touchdown throw from Heide to Joe Demro to make it 35-34, Eden Prairie. Instead of kicking the PAT to tie the game and send it to overtime, the Trojans opted to go for two. Reaching deep into their playbook, Wayzata attempted a shuffle pass which resulted in an incompletion. The try for two was obviously a bold call, but when stakes are high, gutsy calls are needed to win games. Unfortunately, the night did not pan out the way the Trojans would have liked but an more opportunities lie in the future for this talented team. The Trojans will battle Lakeville North next week in what should square up to be an excellent test.