Talking to quarterback Kaleb Blaha and receiver Micah Niewald just minutes after Fridley's bruising 20-7 victory over nearby rival St. Anthony, which improved the Tigers' record to 5-0, there was no sign they had just won their biggest game of the season.
"It's just one game to us," said Blaha, who ran for a touchdown and passed for 129 yards. "We're trying to take this season week by week. We're 1-0 this week."
The speedy Niewald, whose 54-yard scoring run early in the fourth quarter gave Fridley a two-score cushion, had a similarly matter-of-fact assessment.
"Every player takes their roles and we executed our roles today," Niewald said. "We weren't nervous or anything. It's just one game."
The two teams went into the game with similar backgrounds. Both were undefeated and ranked in the top 10 in Class 4A. Fridley had been averaging 55 points per game and St. Anthony nearly as much, 46.
It was a defensive struggle for three quarters. Fridley went on top 7-0 on Michael Ude's 6-yard touchdown run on the game's opening drive.
St. Anthony responded, moving to the Fridley 2-yard line on its opening possession. But the Huskies fumbled, setting in motion a defensive struggle until Niewald's touchdown.
"We try to be a complete team," Tigers coach Justin Reese said. "If our offense is not scoring, we look to our defense. Right now, the sky's the limit."
St. Anthony coach Todd Niklaus said Fridley's defense was the difference: "They're fast. No one has played us like that all season."
With both teams in the same district, Niklaus said he expects to see Fridley again in the postseason.
"They were better than us," he said. "But we'll play them again. And, like I told Justin [Reese], I'd rather win the second game."