No. 1-ranked Eden Prairie faces crucial football road test

Eden Prairie’s Derek Soderberg sprints past Centennial defenders while scoring on a 15-yard run in the first quarter of the Eagles’ 49-12 victory Sept. 14 in the home opener at Aerie Stadium. The Eagles are 3-0 and ranked first in the state. (Photo by Brian Nelson – Contributing Photographer)

Eden Prairie’s Derek Soderberg sprints past Centennial defenders while scoring on a 15-yard run in the first quarter of the Eagles’ 49-12 victory Sept. 14 in the home opener at Aerie Stadium. The Eagles are 3-0 and ranked first in the state. (Photo by Brian Nelson – Contributing Photographer)

Intensity level is bound to increase for Eden Prairie’s unbeaten and No. 1-ranked football team this week.

The Eagles were impressive while recording dominating wins over Champlin Park (55-20) and Rosemount (34-7) in their opening games.

Then Eden  Prairie overpowered Centennial 49-12 Sept. 14 at Aerie Stadium to boost its record to 3-0.

Eden Prairie, defending state Class 5A champion last season, will begin the tough portion of its schedule facing Lake Conference opponents in four of their last five regular-season games.

The Eagles’ first major conference challenge is 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 21, when they travel to undefeated Hopkins (4-0). The Royals defeated Milwaukee (Wis.) Hamilton 49-0 last week to stay unbeaten.

“We know Hopkins will be fired up to play us on its home field,” said Eden Prairie head coach Mike Grant. “Hopkins has a very good senior quarterback in J.T. DenHartog.

“Hopkins uses a spread offense and likes to throw the ball.”

Coach Grant saw many positive signs from his squad last week as it outplayed Centennial.

Eden Prairie senior defensive lineman Tyson Reinke (98) reaches for Centennial’s quarterback during his team’s 49-12 non-conference home victory. The Eagles travel to Hopkins for a 7 p.m. Lake Conference game Friday, Sept. 21. (Photo by Brian Nelson – Contributing Photographer)

Eden Prairie senior defensive lineman Tyson Reinke (98) reaches for Centennial’s quarterback during his team’s 49-12 non-conference home victory. The Eagles travel to Hopkins for a 7 p.m. Lake Conference game Friday, Sept. 21. (Photo by Brian Nelson – Contributing Photographer)

“Our defense has been playing with energy and using its speed to cover the field,” said the Eagle coach. “And our offensive line opened holes against Centennial.

“And our backs finished off drives with excellent scoring runs.”

Early control

Eden Prairie was not about to let Centennial ruin its home opener last week. The Eagles came out ready to play and built a 14-0 first-quarter lead.

The Eagles scored twice in the opening quarter on runs of 5 and 15 yards by Derek Soderberg. Eden Prairie had another 50-yard touchdown run by Charlie Venable called back because of a holding penalty.

Eden Prairie added a touchdown in the second quarter for a 21-0 halftime lead. Kellen Johnson threw a 15-yard scoring pass to tight end Zach Hovey.

Eden Prairie scored two more TDs in the third quarter to increase its advantage to 35-0. The Eagles scored twice more in the final quarter.

Logan Duitsman returned an interception 36 yards for one of those second-half touchdowns. Hovey caught a second TD pass.

Gabe Tschumper scored on a 24-yard run. And Anthony Anderson ran 70 yards for another Eagle score.

Venable led Eagle rushers with 131 yards on nine carries. Anderson gained 106 yards on six rushes.

Eden Prairie used four quarterbacks in the game. However, the Eagles were so effective rushing the football that they didn’t have to pass much against Centennial (0-3).

Ryan Connolly, Grant Shaeffer, Bjorn Halvorson and Johnson shared quarterbacking duties and combined to complete two of five passes for 32 yards.

 

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