A big-time sequence by a big-time player helps keep Wayzata undefeated
After dominating the first three quarters of the football game, the Wayzata Trojans suddenly found itself on the ropes. After taking a 14-0 halftime lead, Eden Prairie scored in the third quarter to cut the lead in half, and for the first time, all game had momentum and some juice on offense. They had moved into Trojans’ territory early in the fourth quarter, but the Trojans’ stud defensive lineman Joe Demro made two plays in a row to turn a promising drive into a punt.
During the defining sequence of the game, Demro stuffed a run between the tackles on second down and then blew up an end-around attempt. The senior captain’s back to back tackles for loss forced an Eagles’ punt and took all the juice out of the Eagles’ offense. The Trojans would later tack on a field goal, and the Eagles would not threaten on offense again until late in the game. The 17-7 victory – on Eden Prairie’s homecoming – snapped a six-game losing streak to the Eagles.
“They pulled a lot,” Demro said. “I am quick, so it was easy to chase those plays down, but in the end, it came down to our whole d-line doing their job.”
While the defense was the story of the game – they got a lot of help from the offense early. After Demro picked up a pair of tackles near the line of scrimmage to help force a short EP punt to open the game, the Trojans’ offense went to work. After a bad snap forced Wayzata to face a second and long, running back Christian Vasser ripped off a twenty-yard run to put the Trojans in the red zone after two plays. Quarterback Thomas Schmidt then found wide receiver Daeshawn Bush cutting across the field for a ten-yard touchdown pass.
Eden Prairie used a fifteen-yard penalty to move the ball into Trojans’ territory, but pressure from the Trojans’ defensive line forced a poor throw and resulted in an EP punt.
Schmidt and wide receiver Julian Diedrich took advantage of some soft coverage in the secondary. They were able to move the ball effectively with wide receiver screens to complement the running game. The running game would convert a third down and then a fourth down to keep the Trojans’ best drive of the game moving. Vasser finished off the drive with an eight-yard touchdown run. The senior ran right up the middle for a Trojans’ touchdown right before the half.
“We have been a big running team, and everyone knows that,” Schmidt said. “The coaches knew EP would be looking to stop the run and to be ready to gun it out there.”
Coming out of halftime with a 14-0 lead, Wayzata’s offense would struggle. The Eagles would force a punt and have great field position. A pair of plays at the line of scrimmage – the first by linebacker Loshiaka Roques and a second by Demro – put EP in a fourth and long situation. Head coach Mike Grant dialed up a fake punt. It not only picked up a first down but was the longest offensive play of the game for the Eagles. It gave EP’s offense the spark it needed. A long pass set up the Eagles inside the five-yard line and running back Johnny Hartle would finish the drive with a two-yard touchdown run.
Eden Prairie found something running behind the right side of their offensive line. They picked up a pair of first downs on the ground and looked like the Eagles were about to do what the Eagles usually do – wear down the opposing defense until they break. The Trojans and most notably – Demro – didn’t break. Demro’s back to back defensive stops forced another Eagles’ punt.
“Demro is a beast,” Schmidt said. “He is a man amongst boys. I am trying to find words to describe him. He is a force.”
EP’s defense tried to keep the home team in the game, but a muffed punt resulted in a Trojans’ fumble recovery deep in Eagles’ territory. While the Trojans didn’t muster much offense off the turnover, they did get close enough for Peter Melquist to make it a two-score game with a 27-yard field goal.
A long kick return gave EP some hope late. They converted on a fourth and four and then on a third and twenty. However, like all game, the Wayzata defense made enough plays down the stretch to keep the Eagles out of the end zone.
“Our team worked hard,” offensive lineman Jac Carver said. “We each did our 1/11th and came out with the win. I think the offensive line played great. We opened holes, and the running backs found them and ran through them.”
The 17-7 victory moved Wayzata to 5-0 and dropped Eden Prairie to a record of 4-1.
Next week Wayzata goes back home to play for the Bay Bell against rival Minnetonka. EP goes on the road to play Edina.