Pro eden prairie essay by jim paulsen
Love it or hate it — and there are plenty on both sides — Eden Prairie is the greatest high school football program Minnesota has produced.
Let's get the numbers out of the way: 18 state tournament appearances in the past 19 years. A state record 10 championships, including the last four large-school crowns — something no other program has done. A current winning streak of 30 in a row.
Surely there must be some thing that Eden Prairie has that others do not? Nonsense.
Detractors cherry-pick Eden Prairie's advantages, but in the end it comes down to kids and coaches and an enviable system.
Doing on-field interviews after a 13-7 victory over Maple Grove in the 2014 Class 6A semifinals, I was struck at how normal the Eagles looked, no bigger nor faster nor stronger than those of any other school. Yet, as usual, they made the plays needed to win.
Truth is, coach Mike Grant's system is built for success. He sees things on the field that most coaches miss. He's not a screamer or a disciplinarian. He shows trust in his coaches and confidence in his players and the results are obvious.
Such unparalleled success brings gripes that "the school is too big" or "they have advantages other schools don't." Some toss out accusations of recruiting, although those voices fail to offer proof.
Hordes of fans watch the New York Yankees or the Dallas Cowboys in hopes of seeing them lose. People tune into the Prep Bowl wondering if this is the year Eden Prairie gets beat. Makes for great discussion, good drama and higher TV ratings.
If you've seen Eden Prairie play — in person or at the Prep Bowl — keep those memories fresh. You can say you've witnessed the best there's ever been.