Three special teams games played a significant role in Rosemount Irish history on Thursday.
And the largely fresh-faced Irish played like veterans by beating Eagan 39-7.
Dismissing a handful of starters on both sides of the ball, the Irish didn’t lack confidence as they traveled about seven miles north on Route 3 to Wildcat Stadium.
“We worked hard all offseason, we had a good camp. We expected to bring it to them tonight,” said Will Priest, who scored two touchdowns.
“I thought it was good, guys get out there and get used to things, get used to the game. It was a good win,” defensive end Gavin Bass said. little nervous, but we stick to our missions.”
The season opener for both teams fell out of reach midway through the second quarter.
Leading 14-0 after Priest’s second score, Rosemount kicked off the ensuing game. As the Eagan defenders retreated to stage a comeback, Ty Hanson caught the short, high kick, uh, on the Eagan 43.
Although the Irish had three hits, a punt in fourth was down at the Eagan 2.
“I think (special teams) is a big part of the game that sometimes teams forget,” Bass said.
Eagan got one of his few first downs, but a negative rush led the Wildcats to throw from deep in their own end zone. Under heavy pressure, the rod kick allowed Rosemount to take possession of the Eagan 15.
A game later, quarterback Landon Danner remained intact on the left side for a 21-0 Irish lead with 1:26 remaining in the half.
A 5-5 finish in 2021 was very different from Rosemount, however, to be fair, the Irish played a demanding schedule that included Lakeville North, Eden Prairie, Lakeville South, Farmington, Prior Lake and Woodbury.
But we won’t have any excuses. The past is the past. Rosemount is focused on today.
And a key part of that is being more physical.
“We went out and boned and kind of handed them the right off the bat,” Priest said. “Kind of like, ‘Alright, down your throat.’ First five or six games, then we break one.
Technically, it was the ninth play that Priest took a transfer and, as he put it, “grinded through a little daylight hole” to the intact gut for 46 yards and a lead of 7-0 midway through the first quarter. Most of the defenders, and probably a lot of the crowd, bit on the fake right.
Danner also scored a 5 in the third quarter, Max Ritter had a 26-yard field goal and Jackson Ganser scored a 4 late.
“They came and did what they said they were going to do. They were going to come here and play bully ball. That’s what they do, they’re good at it and we couldn’t resist,” Wildcats coach Nick Johnson said.
For Eagan, the climb back up the ranks to respectability continues.
In his fourth year at the helm, Johnson has brought the Wildcat program back to where — while he may not be ready to beat Class 6A heavyweights week after week — it’s the one that should be. competitive in all games rather than the team everyone wants to play for back to school.
“We’re still not there,” Johnson said.
Brooklyn Evans scored from 1 midway through the fourth quarter for Eagan, who had three first downs on that drive, matching the number he had in three quarters.