Going into last Friday’s game against Wayzata, Eden Prairie’s Zach Hovey had all of one catch this season. Not what one would expect of a tight end with nine Division I football offers on the table.

Hovey, though, cares little about such statistics. The No. 1, Class 6A Eagles have rolled through the regular season, winning all six of their games by an average of 27 points per game.

“It really doesn’t matter to me how many catches I have,” said the 6-5, 235-pound Hovey, who boosted his season total to three catches after hauling in two passes against Wayzata. “I just want to win.”

Staff writer Jim Paulsen spoke with Hovey on Sunday, two days after Eden Prairie’s 49-14 victory over Wayzata.

 

Q: How does it feel looking back on a victory over your biggest rival?

A: Watching film the next day, to be honest, it felt good but not as good as it felt that night. When you factored out their mental mistakes [Wayzata had five turnovers in the first half], it was a close game. It was a great win, but you could see a lot of places where we could improve.

 

Q: Is that something that makes Eden Prairie so good, not being satisfied?

A: The whole point is to get better and better as the season goes along. Don’t get me wrong, our defense did an unbelievable job stripping the football and creating turnovers. But I’m excited to see that we can improve.

 

Q: What sets Eden Prairie apart?

A: I think our coaching staff is one of the best in the nation. Coach [Mike] Grant is not a screamer or yeller like you see on “Friday Night Lights.” He really gets with the kids one-on-one and gets the best out of them. In practice, we spend our time learning what we need to do. We don’t hit as much as other teams. We know Monday practice doesn’t matter as much as Friday games.

 

Q: You did catch two passes in the game. That must have felt nice.

A: It did. I was pretty excited about that. But winning is most important. If running the ball is the best way to win, I’m fine.

 

Q: What are your responsibilities other than catching passes?

A: We run off-tackle a lot. Our offensive tackle and I do a lot of double-teaming. That’s one of the biggest things I do.

 

Q: Your older brother Maverick was a swimmer at Eden Prairie. Do you swim, too?

A: I swam for about six or seven years. I quit when I was about 14 or 15. I wanted to pursue football and basketball. Swimming is a year-round sport. My brother is swimming constantly.

 

Q: Which sport do you prefer, football or basketball?

A: Football. I like the contact and the adrenaline. And I like to go out and kick the crap out of someone on the field.

 

Q: How has the recruiting process gone?

A: In the beginning, it was just about getting your name out there. Now, it’s about staying in touch and building relationships. I went to Wisconsin last weekend. I’m going to Wyoming next weekend. I’m really having fun on these visits.

 

Q: What is your best football memory?

A: Part of me wants to say the state championship from last year. Another part of me wants to say the state championship from two years ago. But the biggest part is living in the moment right now, being a senior with buddies I’ve played with since third or fourth grade. I’m liking where I am right now the best.

Jim Paulsen