In a small way, Eden Prairie has Chuck Norris to thank for its Class 5A state championship game victory Friday.
Well, his name at least.
With less than three minutes left in the fourth quarter, the Eagles were clinging to a 6-3 lead and facing fourth-and-14 at the Wayzata 30-yard line. Too far to attempt a field goal. Too close for a punt.
So the Eagles pulled out a play they had put in just this week but has been in the playbook since 1996.
The Blue Chuck Norris.
The play was a reverse flea-flicker in which running back Andrew Larson handed the ball to receiver RaShawn Fountain, who pitched the ball back to quarterback Grant Schaeffer.
Schaeffer, under duress from the Wayzata defense, lobbed the ball to running back Jake Woodring, who caught it at the Wayzata 15 and was hauled down at the 5-yard line.
First down, Eden Prairie.
"That ball seemed like it was up there for hours," Wood- ring said. "It would have been nice to try to score on that, but I was just focusing on catching it."
Officially, it's called the Slot Right 99 Reverse Blue Chuck Norris, but for Eden Prairie, call it a resounding success and a play that will live in Eagles' lore for a good long time.
"We show our players all of the great plays that we've had in the years we've won [the championship]," said Eagles coach Mike Grant. "We'll show that play for as long as I'm coach here."
So significant was the play that the ripple effect two plays later turned out to be just as important.
After a 5-yard false-start penalty, the Eagles ran right, with Larson taking another pitch and heading straight at Fountain, who had doubled back again.
The instinctive Wayzata defense bit as two players keyed on Fountain. But this time Larson held on to the ball, made one cut and sprinted into the end zone for the game's only touchdown.
"We totally thought that might happen," Larson said. "We anticipated they would go for RaShawn and I saw the cutback and went for it.
''That has to be my favorite play in my years here. To score the game-winning touchdown in the Prep Bowl? How does it get any better than that?"