For Eden Prairie (Minn.) football players, confidence and excitement run high as momentum builds hours before the Eagles face rival Edina.
Preparation for this game -- the Eagles' biggest roadblock to an eighth state title in 17 years -- began seven days prior, the moment the final whistle blew in Eden Prairie’s 42-7 win over Minnetonka.
“I end up waking up a little bit earlier on game day because I can’t sleep," senior captain and defensive tackle Tyson Reinke says. "You can’t believe it’s Friday, and you get to go out on that field and play your heart out.”
Before the Eagles take the field, they attend a pep rally in the school gym.
“The atmosphere on Fridays is really indescribable,” says senior defensive back Adam Awes. “Everyone loves football games, especially in a program like we have.”
The energy hardly dies once the final school bell rings, when some players head home during their downtime before the game. Senior cornerback John Reynolds and a few of his teammates play Madden on Xbox.
But their laid-back style doesn’t last long once it’s time to head back to school and suit up for Friday Night Lights.
In the locker room, find coach Mike Grant sealing off a final bit of preparation with a pep talk to his players. What they’re playing for, Grant says, is more than just this game. It’s for 20 years of championship football at Eden Prairie.
Then, “once I strap the helmet on, it is officially go-time,” says senior running back Jacob Woodring.