On a Friday night made for football, we took the field against the four time state champ, Eden Prairie, and came up short 28-20. In an atmosphere that was awesome, two great teams battled it out and played a hard fought game that had a ton of great players making great plays. However, it let us know the process week to week that is necessary to allow us to be the team we want to become still needs to move forward.
Defensively, with a few new faces on the field, we battled a very good offense that averaged over 45 points a game versus some very good opponents. In a game where they spent most of the game on the sideline, they showed signs of being a truly good downhill defense, and they were flying around play after play. Lukas Burrington led the team with seven total tackles, Leroy Kwateh had six tackles, and Kayode Awosika made an impact with a sack and five total tackles in his debut has a defensive lineman. We still are trying to become a defense that capitalizes on the big moments of the game and comes up big in important situations that allows the team to gain momentum. Also, we need to believe that when we come downhill we have the confidence and joy in what it takes to finish a play and become great tacklers and pass defenders. We are getting better and better and getting to the point of attack, now we have to love when we get a chance to make a play!
Offensively, we controlled the tempo of the game and did some great things. I have never been a part of a game where the opposing team had their first offensive possession four minutes into the second quarter. However, we need to become an offense that loves to finish drives and dominate the red zone. Some simple penalties and mental mistakes hurt us in critical times that led to us missing out on points, and we have to sure that up these upcoming weeks as we head into the playoffs. Once again, our backs ran hard and our offensive line performed well against a very good defense with some physical, talented ball players that know how to play. Isaac Collins grinded out 128 yards on 26 carries, and Ryan Hanscome added 39 yards and a touchdown during the game. Brad Davison did some great things Friday night keeping the chains moving and leading our team. He finished 12-17 for 135 yards and 1 touchdown, and spread the ball out to six different receivers. This offense can make a huge difference in games, and they need to know that every possession they can do great things.
Many times, when two very good teams go at it, special teams ends up the deciding factor. We had some unbelievable highs and catastrophic lows that need to be addressed in upcoming weeks. Obviously, Eden Prairie’s JD Spielman hurt us with two touchdowns on returns, so I have to do a better job as a coach relating our special teams strategies from week to week. As gut-wrenching as watching those returns were, there were other elements that allowed us to flourish and allow the momentum of the game to be controlled. Will Ampe made two enormous returns for us at important moments that allowed us to have great field position which led to two scores. Also, Tyler Knutsen made both his field goals at critical times that gave us important points that were needed. Special teams needs to be an area where we thrive week in and week out, and we will become much better in all of these areas.
Throughout this season, I have constantly stated that this team is a process that is trying to become their absolute best come playoff time. We did take a great step forward last week against a great football team, but we also need to know that we need to finish things and do the things necessary to win games in championship like environments. The football gods did us a huge favor and gave us the opportunity to play another program that over the past decade has climbed the mountain numerous times and knows how to get to the top. Wayzata comes in undefeated and is a team that has some great talent and is playing with great momentum right now. Playing at their place in a championship like environment will be a blast! It will provide another challenge and atmosphere that will allow us to keep progressing into the team we want to become at playoff time. With how this year is shaping up, there is nothing more I can ask for than playing an undefeated team at their place, and I know the players feel that way too. We need all of the community and fans to fill their stadium and make it Crimson through and through. Let’s enjoy it! It should be a lot of fun, and it’s another great opportunity for us that will only make us better down the road. Our weight room reads as you walk out, “Did you get better?” I hope the answer to that question will be clear as we exit their field next Friday night! See you Friday Night on Peony Lane! GO CRIMSON!