After 22 consecutive losses, Coon Rapids petitioned the MSHSL to drop down to Class 5A this season and next, looking to play a schedule in which it was more competitive.
But it’s fair to assume that even the Cardinals didn’t expect things to turn around this quickly.
They dropped a tough season-opener to Chaska in overtime but have reeled off three straight victories since, the latest a 14-12 homecoming victory over previously undefeated Irondale.
First-year coach Mal Edwards — the Cardinals’ third head coach in three seasons — was certain when the season began that the new classification would pay off.
“The competitive balance has been great for us,” Edwards said. “These kids had a lot of doubt after a couple of years without victories. You can just see the confidence building.”
Edwards said the positive start has lifted the entire school.
“It’s been incredible, actually,” he said. “I saw the energy in the school all week. It was a packed stadium for homecoming and it was an incredible atmosphere.”
A victory over Spring Lake Park Friday would be the Cardinals’ fourth victory of the season, their largest win total since 2010.
Metro Top 10
1. Eden Prairie (4-0): The Eagles are hitting on all cylinders, rolling up 41 first-half points in routing Wayzata. Next: at No. 7 Maple Grove, Thursday, 7 p.m.
2. Edina (4-0): That’s back-to-back shutouts for the Hornets, who previously hadn’t blanked an opponent since Week 1 in 2013. Next: vs. Shakopee, Thursday, 7 p.m.
3. Minnetonka (4-0): The defense has lived up to its billing, giving up touchdowns in just four of 16 quarters. Next: at Lakeville South, Thursday, 7 p.m.
4. Lakeville North (3-1): Think surrendering 41 to Eden Prairie two weeks ago was motivating? The Panthers haven’t allowed a point since. Next: at Wayzata, Thursday, 7 p.m.
5. St. Michael-Albertville (4-0): The Knights are as complete as any team in the metro. Shutting out undefeated Centennial on the road spotlighted the defense. Next: vs. No. 6 Totino-Grace, Friday, 7 p.m.
6. Totino-Grace (3-1): The offense might struggle all season, but the defense is good enough to compensate. Next: at No. 5 St. Michael-Albertville, Friday, 7 p.m.
7. Maple Grove (3-1): A breakout game for speedy RB Evan Hull in a 44-16 win at Burnsville: 239 yards, 4 TDs rushing. Next: vs. No. 1 Eden Prairie, Thursday, 7 p.m.
8. Cooper (5A, 4-0): The Hawks weren’t at their best but still cruised past Bloomington Kennedy 33-0. Next: vs. Armstrong, Friday, 5 p.m.
9. Champlin Park (3-1): A second-half rally and a last-minute field goal by Peyton Eue lifted the Rebels over underrated Osseo 17-16. Next: at Blaine, Friday, 7 p.m.
10. Apple Valley (5A, 4-0): The Eagles are getting better by the week. Their 42-21 victory over Park of Cottage Grove was pure domination for three quarters. Next: vs. Chaska, Friday, 7 p.m.
Just missed: Centennial, Rosemount, Elk River (5A), Roseville.