Most years, Eden Prairie High’s football team is one of the four No. 1 seeds for the state Class 6A playoffs, but this year they’re going into the first round Friday, Oct. 25, as a second seed.
Does this concern head coach Mike Grant?
“Not at all,” he said. “We are happy with a No. 2 seed. We played against the best teams in the state during the regular season, and I feel four of the teams [from the West District] could be four of the final eight in the playoffs.”
Wayzata (8-0) is the No. 1 seed from the West District, while Edina (4-4) comes in at No. 3 and Shakopee (3-5) is No. 4. Eden Prairie (6-2) has two losses this season - 17-7 to Wayzata and 21-14 to Edina.
“The goal now is to go 5-0 in the playoffs,” Grant said.
To do that, the Eagles will run the ball, rely on a strong defense and strive to win the turnover battle.
Turnovers play a big part in a team’s success, Grant has noted numerous times this season.
“We were minus-3 against Wayzata, minus-2 against Edina, but against St. Michael-Albertville [in a 14-7 win Oct. 16], we were plus-3,” Grant said. “Anytime we’re plus-3, I feel good about our chances.”
There were other positives in the victory over St. Michael-Albertville. The Eagle defense held the Knights to 160 yards and stopped them twice on fourth down.
“We didn’t have a turnover,” Grant said. “But they did block one of our punts.”
The offensive leader for EP, sophomore back Javon Palmer-Pruitt, scored both touchdowns on runs of 1 and 2 yards in the fourth quarter. His rushing total was 72 yards on 25 carries.
Junior running back Johnny Hartle rushed for 36 yards on nine carries, but was injured in the second quarter and had to leave the game.
Eden Prairie junior quarterback David Warren-Mitchell played an efficient game, completing seven of 10 attempts for 98 yards, with a quarterback rating of 101.2. His leading receiver, junior Cade Kramer, had six catches for 88 yards.
Grant singled out Ryan Thomas as an unsung offensive hero for the night.
“We used him as our lead blocker at fullback,” the coach noted. “Ryan hadn’t played a lot before the St. Michael-Albertville game. But he stepped up and played great.”
Grant expected a tough game with STMA, and he got it.
“They’re a top-10 team in the state for sure, and maybe top-five,” Grant said. “We left some points on the board.”
Eden Prairie has drawn a seventh-seeded opponent, Anoka, for the opening round of the playoffs at 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 25, at EP’s Aerie Stadium.
Grant will look at film on the Tornadoes this week. Although the Eagles are young this year, the coach has a good feeling about the playoffs.
“We have been starting 14 or 15 underclassmen [out of 22],” he said. “We don’t pull sophomores up to varsity just to pull them up. We pull them up because they can help us.”
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