After back-to-back losses to Edina and Wayzata to close out the regular season, people might’ve dismissed Eden Prairie’s chances to repeat as state champions. Proving that it’s always dangerous to count out a champion until they’re eliminated, the Eagles got stronger throughout the playoffs, ending their season with a dominant performance in a 28-7 victory over Lakeville North in the Class 6A championship game.
For the second straight game, the Eden Prairie defense turned in an outstanding performance, holding Lakeville North off the scoreboard until the final minutes of the game when the outcome was no longer in doubt. They allowed just 219 yards of offense- 84 on that final drive- and pressured Lakeville North quarterback Zach Creighton into three interceptions as the Eagles frustrated a powerful Panthers team that had rolled through each of their playoff opponents.
The Eagles’ rushing attack was just as dominant as their defense, racking up 309 yards of rushing offense. Dan Fisher led the way for the Eagles, carrying the ball 31 times for 148 yards and a touchdown, with Charlie Venable adding 69 yards on nine carries and Anthony Anderson 36 yards on eight carries and a score.
Fisher got the scoring started for Eden Prairie with a 3-yard touchdown run on the opening possession of the game. The Eagles then intercepted Creighton on the Panthers’ first possession of the game, but turned the ball right back over when Lakeville North’s Alec Larson recovered an Anthony Anderson fumble. Lakeville North couldn’t convert the turnover into points and was forced to punt the ball back to Eden Prairie.
Pinned back at their own 4-yard-line, the Eagles engineered a 96-yard touchdown drive that consumed the majority of the second quarter and asserted their dominance in this game. Each of the fourteen plays in the drive was a running play with quarterback Grant Shaeffer finishing off the drive with a 5-yard score that made the score 13-0 Eden Prairie. That was the score at the half, and when Jacob Woodring finished Eden Prairie’s first possession of the second half with a 5-yard touchdown run, the championship was all but decided.
Anthony Anderson provided the exclamation point for the Eagles, scoring from 6 yards out with 3:59 remaining to give the Eagles a 28-0 lead. Lakeville North avoided the shutout when Ben Blake hauled in a 13-yard touchdown pass from Zach Creighton, and the extra point closed the scoring at 28-7.
The win was Eden Prairie 8th state championship, all of them coming since 1996. They’re now 8-1 in state championship games under head coach Mike Grant, and this year’s Eagles team finished with an 11-2 record. Lakeville North, making their first appearance in the finals since the Lakeville high school split into North and South in 2005, also finished with an 11-2 record.