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Jameson Parsons watched from the sideline in agony. He finished the season playing in pain.
A year ago, the senior quarterback was looking to guide Eagan to its first winning season since 2003. A broken collarbone in the second game of the season against Lakeville North felled those expectations.
"It was hard to watch from the sideline," Parsons said.
He did return to play in the playoffs, where he reinjured the collarbone in a heartbreaking 21-20 loss to Cretin-Derham Hall.
"We had so much potential."
Parsons directed the Wildcats to a thrilling 37-36 victory over Lakeville South in the opener and a 14-0 lead over Lakeville North in week 2 before being injured. They wound up losing to the Panthers 29-14 and went on to finish 5-5.
"I have high expectations this year," Parsons said. "I expect us to win every game."
It is a lofty goal for a program that has gone 15-43 over the past six years. And that includes finishing 6-4 in 2003.
"When we beat White Bear Lake [26-20] my sophomore year that was our first win in two years," Parsons said. "We have been rebuilding, and everybody has been working hard to get better."
The Wildcats have won nine games over the past two years under coach Rick Sutton. He is entering his fifth season at the helm of program.
"I've been looking forward to this season for a long time," Parsons said.
He also missed part of the basketball season after suffering a partial torn lateral meniscus in his right knee.
"I'm excited to be playing again."
Parsons completed 38 of 68 passes for 537 yards with six touchdowns and two interceptions in four games last season. He also ran for 129 yards on 33 carries and one score.
"He surprised us when we started him as a sophomore," Sutton said. "He did a great job, and showed us plenty of toughness."
Parsons added 15 pounds to his frame since his junior season. He is 6-2 and 205 pounds.
"He is very coachable," Sutton said. "He can be too hard on himself at times, but is learning to be more even keel."
The Wildcats open their season at home Friday, Sept. 3 against Lakeville South. If it's anything like last year's wild affair, you know who Sutton will count on to win it.
"He wants the ball in his hands at key moments," Sutton said. "He plays with a lot of confidence."
It's a trait the coach has been trying to instill in all of the Wildcat players since 2006.
"It doesn't happen overnight," Sutton said. "We want to get to the point of being competitive week in and week out, year in and year out."