Thursday, August 28, 2008

Eastview goes down in a blaze of Eden Prairie red

Eastview goes down in a blaze of Eden Prairie red

November 21, 2007

Eastview goes down in a blaze of Eden Prairie red
by Jeff Barthel

The Eastview Lightning football team was excited for its chance at exacting revenge on its mighty Lake Conference foe last Friday night.

Lightning fans flocked to the Minneapolis Metrodome in droves to support their team. Among the spectators included the Eastview pep band, its cheerleaders, and a 350-plus-student section united in white displaying its large banners of hope to inspire its football squad’s determination.

Then, roughly two and a half hours later, these faithful followers stood proud despite watching their Lighting get trampled 30-0 for its 11th straight loss to the Class 5A, No. 1-ranked Eden Prairie Eagles in the state semifinals.

“We’ve got nothing to be ashamed of, only to be proud of,” said Eastview head coach Kelly Sherwin.

Sherwin was especially proud of the defense, which limited Eden Prairie’s mighty offense to nine points on its first three possessions. Playing a major role in Eastview’s early defensive success was defensive back Erik Klefsaas.

Following an Eastview turnover, Eden Prairie’s rushing game placed the Eagles in a second-and-10 situation at Eastview’s 25-yard line. Eden Prairie quarterback Ryan Grant attempted a quick pass to wide receiver Ben Heuper only to be clobbered by Klefsass for a 2-yard loss.

“It felt great,” Klefsaas said of the hit. “The score was 0-0 at the time, so I felt I made a big play, it just didn’t happen for us.”

The play set up a 45-yard field goal attempt for Eden Prairie’s seldom-used kicker, Erik Soderberg. Entering the game, Soderberg had only four attempts on the season, making true on all four with a longest of 43 yards.

The kick was up, and, not only did it clear the Dome’s goal posts, it was dead-center and had an extra 10-12 yards to spare.

Following the field goal came two more Eden Prairie field goals.

The first came after a turnover, when Eastview quarterback Corey Eul threw a pass toward wide receiver Erik Fabry that wound up five yards short and in an Eagle defender’s hands.

The other field goal came after a third-and-eight situation went awry. Eul backed up to pass, but had no protection. Mere seconds elapsed as the Eastview quarterback was bombarded by a two-man sack attack.

The sack was registered as a 14-yard loss.

Despite the offensive struggles, the score was only 9-0 with 6:07 remaining on the first half game clock.

Then, less than one minute later, Eul fumbled a missed hand-off attempt. Eden Prairie recovered and took advantage of the Eastview turnover immediately, as the Eagles Matt Swanson rushed to the left side and slipped by Lightning defenders virtually untouched en route to an 11-yard touchdown run.

“That last touchdown (before the half) just killed us,” said Klefsaas. “We still felt we were in the game, in the second half, it just didn’t work out in our favor.”

After surrendering four first-half turnovers to Eden Prairie’s 429.8 yards-per-game and 42.1 points-per-game offense, 16-0 was a modest deficit.

However, things eventually became worse for a worn-out Lightning defense.

Eden Prairie opened up the second half with drives of 5:13, 6:59 and 1:27.

The latter two drives included a dropped punt by Eastview’s Patrick O’Neil that led to a Scott Lindner touchdown to make the score 30-0 with 8:33 remaining in the fourth quarter.

“We just killed the clock,” said Eden Prairie quarterback Ryan Grant. “In the second half, our offensive line did a tremendous job pushing off defenders and keeping them (Eastview) off the ball.”

From there, Soderberg (who also handles the punting for Eden Prairie) launched a punt that pinned Eastview on its own 3-yard-line with 5:27 remaining in the game.

Eden Prairie controlled possession for 28 minutes and 49 seconds, while Eastview managed the clock for 19:11. The Eagles rushed the ball 46 times for 227 yards, while the Lightning combined for 86 yards on 28 carries.

The loss marked the 11th straight for Eastview at the hands of Eden Prairie. Sherwin has witnessed all 11.

Entering Friday’s tilt the Lightning were 10-1, the lone loss being a 21-0 home defeat to Eden Prairie. The Eagles have beaten Eastview by a collective score of 275-59 over the 10-year rivalry.

In the 11 years of Eastview football existence, the Lightning have won 75 games and lost 43. The record includes 59-31 in Lake Conference play; or, 59-23 versus its Lake foes if you exclude Eastview’s 0-9 inaugural season.

After this most recent defeat, the Eagles gathered in celebration while Sherwin gave his Lightning an inspirational talk. Minutes later, Sherwin was ask about his team’s fan support, which still stood near its team while players were mourning in tears of frustration, but also pride.

“I mean, it’s just outstanding, it’s a credit to our school,” said Sherwin, clearing his throat while looking to the Lightning faithful. “I think we’re lucky, and it’s a credit to these guys that therein so many people here.”

“We hope we got beat by the state champion,” added Sherwin. “That’s our goal, if Eden Prairie wins the state championship and keeps it (first place) in the Lake Conference, that’s the way it should be.”

With Grant, Soderberg and Mobley graduating in 2008, Sherwin will re-group with a new batch of black, blue, silver and white as next year’s Lightning hopes to finally extinguish the blazing red fury that is Eden Prairie Eagles football.

**This article was published in the Apple Valley edition of Thisweek newspapers. It may also be viewed at:

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