Extending his hand toward Maple Grove football coach Matt Lombardi, the Minnesota Vikings' general manager said, "I'm Rick Spielman."
Lombardi exclaimed, "My God, your kid," a reaction shared by anyone who witnessed top-ranked Eden Prairie's JD Spielman shine against the Crimson.
Spielman, a senior committed to Nebraska, dazzled in his various roles throughout the Eagles' 28-20 home victory on Friday. He registered touchdowns on a 93-yard punt return, an 85-yard kickoff return and a 25-yard rush. He also intercepted a Maple Grove pass in the end zone.
"Spielman can't be much better," Lombardi said. "He single-handedly destroyed us. I don't think I've seen someone who makes people miss every week."
Maple Grove did almost everything right. The Crimson offense sustained drives, shortened the game and kept an Eden Prairie (4-0) offense averaging 45 points per game off the field.
Keeping Spielman out of the end zone was another matter.
"It was fun for me," Spielman said. "We played great. We came out and stuck with it."
So did the Crimson (2-2), who forced Eden Prairie fans and players to cheer for a late first down — an uncommon occurrence during the Eagles' 34-game winning streak. Lombardi lauded his team's effort but preached the need to finish.
Like Spielman did.
"It was a heck of a game," Spielman said. "That's what two great teams do, they just battle back and forth. In the end, we wanted it the most."
David La Vaque