Eden Prairie football players and coaches applied a full-court press to lure basketball specialist Jack Tuttle back to the gridiron.
Coach Mike Grant called Tuttle, a senior who last played football on the freshman B-team, to his office more than once. Players were dogged in their pursuit as well, making a pitch Tuttle could not resist.
"All my friends convinced me to come out for one last year and win a state championship," Tuttle said.
Friday night provided strong indication that the dream is attainable. Host Eden Prairie, top-ranked in both the Associated Press and Star Tribune metro top-10 rankings, turned an anticipated battle with No. 2 Lakeville North into a 41-13 rout. Tuttle's 61-yard touchdown catch put the game out of reach at 28-6.
A packed house, which included former Super Bowl coaches Bud Grant and Jon Gruden, saw the Eagles stake their claim to supremacy.
Down 21-0, Lakeville North drew from its bag of tricks. A halfback pass from Brian Curtis Jr. to Ryan Dalrymple covered 62 yards for a score and trimmed the def-icit to 21-6.
Eden Prairie responded on its ensuing drive.
Quarterback Cole Kramer said the play "was called 'Jailbreak Blue' and we've been running it well in practice, so I knew we would run it at some point."
Kramer faked to Daejon Wolfe, who had already stung the Panthers for touchdowns of 57 and 20 yards, and went deep to a streaking Tuttle. The Panthers' safety read the fake well, but it did not matter.
"I just turned on my speed, and Cole throws such a good ball I could just run under it," Tuttle said.
Lakeville North coach Brian Vossen relished this game as a gauge for his team's playoff chances. The lessons were hard-learned Friday.
"We've got to block better, we've got to tackle better," he said. "We've got to play with the confidence that we practice with. Now they've been kicked, and they understand what it's going to take to compete at that level. It's up to our kids to decide they want to do it. There's some talent on this squad, but it didn't get showcased tonight."
Eden Prairie's star power shined. Wolfe showed off his speed with his two touchdown catches, and running back Solo Falaniko sparked the first scoring drive of the second half with a 38-yard run.
"We really played for each other," said Eden Prairie linebacker Antonio Montero, who added a pair of rushing touchdowns. "Even when they scored that deep pass we were picking each other up and staying positive.''