“The kids in this district have a choice, but I’m a believer that the best support for your program is your players,” Brown said. “If they are enjoying the experience, you’re going to have a strong program.”
Brown experienced rivalry games during former coaching stints at White Bear Lake and Fridley, but said two high schools within the same district adds flavor.
Chaska’s practice on the first day of school, historically difficult because players are pulled in myriad directions all day, went smoothly because players were focused on Chanhassen, Brown said.
“It’s unique because the kids all know each other and are friends outside of school,” he said. “If you went to White Bear Lake, you really didn’t know anyone from Mounds View.”
Ragnow counts Chaska players Calvin Buesgens, Carter Groskreutz and Lucas Ward among his good friends. Arnold feels likewise about Storm running back Cole Kirchoff. Several players from both teams are in a fantasy football league, Ragnow said. (With the first overall pick in the draft, Ragnow selected Vikings running back Adrian Peterson.)
“There is a lot of friendship,” Arnold said. “But once we’re on the field we don’t treat them like we know them.”
The teams need a victory for different reasons. Chaska enjoyed a comeback victory against Hopkins on Aug. 23, then had a bye week. The Hawks seek to continue their momentum, while Chanhassen, shut out in a loss against Hudson (Wis.) last week, seeks redemption.
“This week is a perfect week to come back, show we worked hard over the summer and make a statement that we are not the team we showed last week,” Ragnow said.
The game marks the season debut of Chanhassen senior running back Raymonte Maynard, a transfer from Minneapolis Washburn who on Thursday was cleared to play by the Minnesota State High School League.