White Bear Lake coach Ryan Bartlett could scarcely speak to his team after the Bears pulled off a last-minute, come-from-way-behind 28-27 victory over Centennial on Thursday.
The emotion of the moment had overwhelmed him.
The victory was the first for the Bears since Oct. 9, 2015, ending a string of 19 losses. And it came in their first game since Bartlett began his battle with Hodgkin’s lymphoma, which he discovered last winter but is now in remission.
“I lost it a little bit there,” Bartlett said. “I didn’t think I would, but it hit me in the face. It was pretty emotional.”
The Bears trailed 14-0 halfway through the first quarter and 21-6 at halftime. They rallied on the arm of quarterback Cooper Anderson, who threw three second-half touchdown passes. His final scoring toss, a 4-yarder to Eamon Kerrigan-Krodel with 46 seconds left, was the game-winner.
“I think we had to win hard,” Bartlett reasoned. “We haven’t done it for a while, and when you’re in that spot, you’re not going to run someone off the field.”
Once the fervor subsided, Bartlett realized that the best part was victory’s effect on his players, who were the centerpiece of a wild celebration by fans who stormed the field at game’s end.
“I think, with the streak and what’s happened with me, they’ve been overshadowed a little,” he said. “More than anything, I’m happy for them.”
Metro Top 10
1. Eden Prairie (1-0): Eagles needed a last-minute interception by DB Caden Fey in the end zone to hold off Eastview 14-9.
2. Minnetonka (1-0): The Skippers cruised past Eagan 42-0. The Bay Bell Trophy is up for grabs this week when they host No. 8 Wayzata.
3. Cretin-Derham Hall (1-0): Danny Callahan to Peter Udoibok is as dynamic a passing duo as there is in the metro.
4. Lakeville North (1-0): RB Brian Curtis ran for a career-high 154 yards in a 30-6 victory over Burnsville.
5. Prior Lake (1-0): QB Colin O’Connor accounted for four TDs — two rushing, two passing — in a 41-8 victory over Shakopee.
6. Edina (1-0): It took a last-minute TD by Matt Cavanagh to beat Lakeville South 13-8. It wasn’t pretty, but road victories are nothing to be downplayed.
7. Maple Grove (1-0): Evan Hull is the best RB in the state. He proved it with 387 rushing yards and four TDs in a 34-7 victory over Osseo.
8. Wayzata (1-0): For the second straight year, the Trojans opened the season by beating Rosemount. This time, they did it on the road.
9. Champlin Park (1-0): In his first action since 2016, QB Bennett Otto fired three TD passes and ran for another TD in a 27-23 victory over East Ridge.
10. Elk River (Class 5A, 1-0): The Elks struggled in the first quarter, then hung 40 on Moorhead in the second and third quarters.
Others to watch: St. Thomas Academy (5A), Cooper (5A), Blaine, Totino-Grace, Andover (5A).