Edina jumps on No. 4 Minnetonka early
After Edina decisively defeated Minnetonka on Friday, it’s clear the Hornets are relishing their newfound reputation as a hard-nosed, tough-guy football team.
Running back Matt Cavanagh ran 68 yards for a touchdown on the No. 6 Hornets’ second offensive play of the game en route to a 21-point first quarter — more than they had scored in any game this season — to key a 21-7 victory over the No. 4-ranked Skippers.
“The hole opened up, I saw the green grass and I just ran,” said Cavanagh, who finished with 181 yards and two touchdowns. “We knew what we could do and that’s what we did.”
Edina coach Derrin Lamker called the Harvard-bound Cavanagh “one of the best football players I’ve ever coached.”
“He played almost every play tonight in big-time, big-boy 6A football: Offense, defense, kick return, punt return,” Lamker said. “He’s not the fastest, but he’s got game speed. When it’s game time, he knows how to hammer the game.”
Of course, Cavanagh had a little help. Much of his rushing yardage came while running behind Edina’s elite right tackle, Quinn Carroll, who has committed to play at Notre Dame.
“Yeah, there’s a big guy that wears No. 75,” Cavanagh said. “He’s a beast. An absolute beast.”
To the 6-7, 295 pound Carroll, watching Cavanagh race down the field for sixth-ranked Edina was “the best feeling,” he said. “To know you formed that hole and he found it and is running for a touchdown, it’s the best.”
At the same time, Edina’s defense shut down Minnetonka’s running game and frustrated Skippers quarterback Aaron Syverson, making the normally powerful Skippers offense look rather pedestrian.
When the Skippers weren’t battling the Edina defense, they often found themselves battling their own mistakes. They fumbled on two of their first four possessions, had a half-dozen passes slip through their hands and were penalty prone.
A stark example of the latter came in the second half with Minnetonka trying to find momentum.
After pinning Edina deep in its own end, the Skippers committed three consecutive 15-yard personal foul penalties, the last of which ended with the ejection of a Minnetonka player.
Credit Edina’s swarming defense, the team’s identity all season, for Minnetonka’s frustration.
The Skippers had a 12-play, 98-yard drive that ended in a 26-yard scoring run by Syverson for their lone score.
“We might not be at talented as some teams, but we play together and our guys buy in,” Lamker said.
“And when you do that, good things happen.”