A third consecutive Eden Prairie state football championship could mean more than a No. 1 state ranking.
If the Eagles win the Class 6A title in November, they will be ranked as one of the nation’s best high school football teams. Well, that’s if they can avoid a set of losses, like last season, along the way. And, preferably, remain undefeated. And score a lot of points.
It would be the Eagles’ seventh undefeated season under coach Mike Grant’s reign and the first time a big school claimed back-to-back-to-back titles. Add all these accomplishments together and it’s worth a ranking somewhere near the bottom of USA Today’s and MaxPreps’ Top 25 polls, according to representatives from both outlets.
Grant asked the same question after his 2006 and 2007 teams went undefeated in winning championships. Eden Prairie finished No. 14 in MaxPreps’ 2007 poll and No. 16 in the USA Today poll. The Eagles’ most recent set of back-to-back championships weren’t even enough for a national mention.
“ ‘Well, how do you get to the top 10? How do you get there?’ I joked with the MaxPreps [representative],” Grant said. “He responded seriously: ‘You’ve got no chance. No hope.’ ”
The response might have been offensive to some coaches, but Grant said he doesn’t concern himself with national opinion. This feeling is shared by most of Minnesota’s best football programs and coaches.
Cretin-Derham Hall coach Mike Scanlan doesn’t know, or care to, if any of his teams have been nationally ranked in his 27 years with the program. During the days of Joe Mauer and Rashon Powers-Neal, the Raiders were rated among the top 15 in some national polls.
Minnetonka coach Dave Nelson has led his team against some of the Midwest’s top football programs from outside the state in the past several years. He’d prefer to keep his focus local, though.
This lack of interest has left Minnesota mostly forgotten when it comes to national prep football leaders.
USA Today’s Jim Halley compiles the national publications’ “Super 25.” As nice as he could say it, Halley said there is no way a Minnesota team climbs atop the poll this season. His decisions are based on regular conversations with coaches from around the county, past success and current-season results. Wins or losses against other highly rated programs are the most valuable.
Grant said he was contacted by one of Florida’s best high school football programs to fill the hole in this season’s schedule. Grant couldn’t remember the school’s name but did remember the team was ranked No. 1 in the country or state at some point last season.
Finances kept Eden Prairie, which has traveled by bus to Canada to play, from making the trip and a possible statement victory. The most feasible travel option, Grant said, was to charter a plane for $50,000. Grant, who defines himself as a simple man, wouldn’t do it.
“This is high school sports. You’re supposed to take an orange bus to games,” he said.
Cretin-Derham Hall knows what it’s like to go up against the nation’s best. In 2004, the Raiders traveled to Shreveport, La., for a late-season matchup against Evangel Christian Academy, the state’s best team.
|San Diego||12/12/13 7:25 PM|
|Washington||12/15/13 12:00 PM|
|San Francisco||12/15/13 12:00 PM|
|Seattle||12/15/13 12:00 PM|
|Chicago||12/15/13 12:00 PM|
|Houston||12/15/13 12:00 PM|
|Buffalo||12/15/13 12:00 PM|
|New England||12/15/13 12:00 PM|
|Philadelphia||12/15/13 12:00 PM|
|Kansas City||12/15/13 3:05 PM|
|NY Jets||12/15/13 3:05 PM|
|Arizona||12/15/13 3:25 PM|
|New Orleans||12/15/13 3:25 PM|
|Green Bay||12/15/13 3:25 PM|
|Cincinnati||12/15/13 7:30 PM|
|Baltimore||12/16/13 7:40 PM|
|Central Conn St||73|
|Central Penn College||72||FINAL|
|South Dakota St||59||FINAL|
|Army||12/14/13 2:00 PM|
|SE Missouri St||34||FINAL|