The Eden Prairie Rivalry: all tied up


Elisabeth Oster, Staff Writer

The Wayzata football team has had many rivalries over the years, Eden Prairie is a rivalry without equal. As the Wayzata Trojans approach their game against the Eden Prairie Eagles on October 19th, the boys are more than prepared.
“We always start the season by talking about getting better each week, each day. So really, the biggest preparation for Eden Prairie or any game is to just be a bit better today than we were yesterday,” said Coach Brad Anderson.
According to the Wayzata Trojans’ website, the team played Eden Prairie for the first time in 1987. Since then, Wayzata has faced the Eagles 16 times.
“Our rivalry with Eden Prairie is relatively new because for most of our existence we’ve been in different conferences and we haven’t played each other,” Anderson said.
According to Anderson, Eden Prairie has a football program that has had people in the same position for a long time.
This has made the team a stronger opponent and well organized.
“I think because we have been a growing community here, we’ve had a number of people come in and leave our program. It takes a while for all the pieces to fit together as much as you’d like,” Anderson said.
Of the 16 games Wayzata has played against Eden Prairie, both teams have won 8 games. This places each team in a tie that will be broken by either the Trojans or the Eagles this year.
“What I have found is generally when we play well on offense and don’t turn the ball over there is consistency. Then, when the defense stops the run and our special teams are sound we seem to do pretty well,” Anderson said. “When we have games where we have turnovers, it doesn’t go as well.”
Although Anderson acknowledges that competition is a vital part of all sports, his main goal is to show respect to the opposing team.
“Obviously Eden Prairie has been a power in football. From that perspective, we have always respected playing them and enjoyed playing them. I’d say each team we play each week is a team we respect,” said Anderson.
When the Trojans started playing the Eagles, Wayzata won the first five years. Then, it began to shift as Eden Prairie became a more dominant team.
“For us, it’s a lot about focusing on what we’re doing and not worrying as much about what Eden Prairie does,” Anderson said.
Despite the Eagles growing mastery in football, the three-time state champions are not daunted.
“The biggest advantage we have is we believe we’re going to win. We go into the game and we just believe we are going to win,” said Anderson. “As long as you go into a game with that mindset, that’s always an advantage.”
When asked about the Trojans’ most memorable win against Eden Prairie, Anderson talked about a game a few years ago that started with Wayzata having the ball in overtime.
“We ended up scoring on a pass play and they got the ball. Then, in their possession they ended up scoring and they tried a trick play to go for two points. But we stopped them and beat them in overtime. I think that was our most memorable win,” Anderson said.
Anderson sees sports rivalries as a relatively positive part of the team’s performance and experience. He also recognizes long-standing rivalries that include Hopkins, Minnetonka, Armstrong, and Osseo.
“I think rivalries are like colors to a picture. In the fact that without rivalries, you would still have games but it wouldn’t have the same emotional tone,” Anderson said.
Although Anderson recognizes the vitality of rivalries to any game, he also says they can go too far.
“Rivalries can become a bad thing when players or fans do not treat the competition in a healthy way. Competition is really a two-edged sword, it can bring out the best in a person but it can also bring out the worst. I think whenever rivalries turn destructive, that’s when they are no longer beneficial,” said Anderson.
The Trojans football team isn’t the only ones with rivalries such as Eden Prairie. “Sports rivalries are really fun when they are healthy and there is mutual respect between both teams,” Swim and Dive Coach Elizabeth Hansen said.
All in all, rivalries like the unique Eden Prairie rivalry is good for any team to grow and play their best.
“You typically see people perform their best when they’re going up against a rival,” said Anderson. “It allows people to really find out what is their limit. So I think rivalries allow us to see the best in us.”