con eden prairie essay by david la vaque

George Thole could only laugh.

The longtime Stillwater football coach, who retired with four state championships, stood with old friend Mike Grant last fall on the TCF Bank Stadium turf. He offered Grant, Eden Prairie's coach, congratulations for a fourth consecutive state title and 10th overall.

"They should move Eden Prairie to Class 7A," Thole joked.

Some prep football fans shake their heads and smile about the Eagles' dynasty. Others, from parents with sons in competing programs to rabid fans, renew their bitterness with each conference title and section victory of its November reign.

They are tired of the winning, of course. Eden Prairie's current postseason run of 20 consecutive victories includes four state titles. The Eagles also have a 30-game winning streak overall. Most grinding, though, are Eagles' fans views of why the team is successful. This idea that hard work and sacrifice are qualities unique to Eden Prairie.

Football is a numbers game. Eden Prairie is one of two high schools (Wayzata is the other) in the state hovering near 3,000 students.

The affluent community invests in its sports programs. Grant is the son of Minnesota football royalty. And Vikings headquarters are within city limits.

Such advantages really cannot be replicated by other communities.

Then consider all four of the Eagles' latest title teams benefited from a player moving in from out of state or transferring from a metro area high school.

The Eden Prairie Eagles are the haves. To their credit, they have not messed it up. But some football fans refuse to wave as this parade rolls by. In today's slang, such people are labeled haters. Does that make them wrong?