Friday felt like old times in Wayzata's rivalry with Eden Prairie.
Not since 2013 had both teams, winners of a combined 14 Prep Bowls, been ranked in the top three of the Associated Press poll. Don't blame Eden Prairie, which won 11 of those titles. It maintained its lofty status with a run that included annual Wayzata beatings. For the rivalry to again flourish, the Trojans needed to re-establish themselves.
A 17-7 victory Friday in a battle of unbeatens did the job.
No. 3 Wayzata (5-0) spoiled homecoming for No. 2 Eden Prairie (4-1) by winning in a fashion its hosts know well: with strong defense and running. No turnovers. Pouncing on opportunities.
"I'm not going to lie to you, it feels really good," senior quarterback Thomas Schmidt said of the Trojans' first victory over Eden Prairie since 2012. "Something is just different about this team. We didn't just make a step up from last season. It was a leap."
Schmidt and Daeshawn Bush connected on a 10-yard touchdown pass and a 7-0 Wayzata lead. The Trojans doubled it late in the first half with a scoring drive best described as Eden Prairie-esque. A clock-bleeding, confidence-shaking jaunt worth more than the seven points produced.
Two third-down conversions and another on fourth down propelled the 75-yard drive. Running back Christian Vasser finished the drive with an 8-yard scoring run.
The Trojans needed to do more than feed Vasser, who battled nagging injuries this week after carrying the ball 64 times in the past two games. Schmidt connected on several bubble screens, quick throws to receivers positioned parallel to the line of scrimmage.
Strong play-calling and execution produced a 14-0 lead with 31 seconds left in the first half. But Schmidt wasn't celebrating. A year ago, these teams fought to the end in a 35-34 Eden Prairie victory. The lesson: Don't relax.
Sure enough, the Eagles responded. A fake punt on their opening drive of the second half worked to perfection. Senior Jack Hedlund, who replaced junior David Warren-Mitchell at quarterback in the second half, ensured the surprise first down resulted in points. A few plays later, Johnny Hartle ran in a 2-yard touchdown.
Ahead 14-7, Wayzata got a big break in the fourth quarter as senior inside linebacker Casey Winterer recovered a fumble by Eden Prairie's punt returner at the Eagles 15-yard line.
Peter Melquist kicked a 27-yard field goal and Eden Prairie faced a two-possession deficit with 5:22 left. The Eagles fell short, mustering only one offensive touchdown for a second consecutive week.
"It's a big win for our kids," Wayzata coach Lambert Brown said. "You want to beat the best, and that's a great program. To go out and beat them, that's a measure of how we're doing."