This year on the Gold Coast, the first football game of the season was The Big Game. In the last game of the year last season, the Minnetonka Skippers defeated the Wayzata Trojans in the Class 5A Prep Bowl. In this year's opener, the Skippers came to "our house," as the Trojans call it, for a rematch. The teams did not disappoint the overflow crowd under the lights at the 5,500 seat stadium. They provided a wild game with high scoring, penalties on both sides, and exciting plays. It reminded me of the big football games I saw in high school between Bloomington Lincoln and our crosstown rivals, Bloomington Jefferson.
It was an extra special night for one proud dad, Wayzata High School alumnus Sen. David Gaither (R-Plymouth), whose son Ben was the starting quarterback for the Trojans. Ben completed seven of 14 passes for 128 yards and one touchdown. Gov. Tim Pawlenty performed the ceremonial coin-toss. It was the only high school football game scheduled this year on FSN North, and they gave it the slick production of a Monday Night Football game, with animated titles, stats, studio interviews, sideline interviews, mic'ed coaches, instant replay, and multiple camera angles -- everything but John Madden. Parents and fans had a pregame barbecue with a live rock band, sponsored by the Wayzata boosters. The game was anticipated by the teams, parents, students, and the communities all summer.
Every now and then, someone proposes moving the sports programs out of the public schools to the city or county rec departments. This would leave the schools to focus on academics and provide easier access to sports like football to charter and private school students. In light of last night's Big Game, and the many big games over the years, I think we need to find other solutions that don't take away this kind of tradition and memories for future public school teams and fans.