Vikings Host First Prep Spotlight High School Football Game at TCO Stadium
View images from the first-ever high school football game between Eagan and Farmington at TCO Stadium from the Twin Cities Orthopedics Performance Center.
EAGAN, Minn. – Eagan gave a valiant comeback effort, but it was the Farmington Tigers who claimed a 41-28 win in the inaugural Prep Spotlight game at Twin Cities Orthopedics Performance Center.
Enthusiasm filled the crisp, late-September air, and the Wildcats pep band served as a soundtrack as 6,255 fans – half decked in Eagan blue-and-green and the other half repping Farmington orange-and-black – filled the stadium seats.
The night marked Eagan’s homecoming game.
“Six thousand-plus fans in here cheering, it was awesome,” said Eagan Head Coach Ben Hanson. “It was great energy, great things going on in the second half. We just got the whole place rocking with both teams. I think overall it was just an amazing experience and great for the Vikings to allow us to come in here and play.”
Tigers quarterback Alex Berreth made his second start and sparked a dominant first half by Farmington, which scored 26 points in the second quarter and entered halftime with a 33-7 lead.
Eagan clawed its way back and scored three touchdowns in the second half. Having cut the deficit to five and with a chance to drive down and take the lead, however, a Wildcats fumble was recovered by the Tigers, who sealed the game with a final score.
Berreth, who threw for two touchdowns and ran for another, was named the FVP MVP of the game. He finished the night 16-of-25 passing for 305 yards.
“It’s pretty cool. It’s pretty sick to be able to play on [the Vikings field],” Berreth said. “Right after the first drive, we felt at home. I was on a roll after that.”
Prior to the game, Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman, Vikings Chief Operating Officer Kevin Warren and Minnesota State High School League Associate Director Bob Madison welcomed a number of city officials and school representatives at a reception to kick off the Prep Spotlight series.
Spielman called it a “unique and special opportunity” to share TCO Performance Center with local high schools.
“For them to get that experience to play with that scoreboard out there, to play with that atmosphere that’s going to be created out there is going to be, hopefully, something they never forget once get they through high school,” Spielman said.
“This is going to be a very big game, and the one thing I wish is that you guys don’t end up in a tie,” Spielman quipped in reference to the Vikings-Packers Week 2 matchup. “Someone’s gotta win the trophy tonight.”
He added on a more serious note, however, that the Vikings consider it a “very important initiative” to bring high school football into the team’s headquarters.
“It’s the bloodline of eventually what we look for and how we’re going to fill this roster out,” Spielman said, highlighting the five Minnesota natives on the Vikings active roster. “They say Minnesota doesn’t have a lot of great football players, but you see a lot of them playing on Sundays for us and helping us win games.”
Warren said it was a dream come true to kick off a high school game under the lights of TCO Stadium.
“First and foremost, we’d like to thank our Owners, the Wilf Family, who provided us with the resources to dream, to free-think, to do things like this that a lot of other teams, especially other NFL teams, are not doing,” Warren said. “But this is our Viking blood. High school football is so important because these young men who are out here tonight are truly student-athletes. They study during the day, they practice in the afternoon, they train at night, and this really epitomizes what football stands for.”
Warren specifically thanked Twin Cities Orthopedics, FVP and COUNTRY Financial for their partnership in the initiative.
“There’s so many people who leaned into this,” Warren said. “To have Eagan here, to have Farmington here, to have a homecoming here, we knew when we wanted to do these games here, it was so important to have our local partners here.”
Farmington resident Jodi Beach said it was a special setting for enjoying a high school football game.
“It’s pretty exciting to be on the Vikings field and having our hometown team represented tonight,” said Beach, whose daughter plays in the Tigers band. “My daughter was so excited to come tonight to the Vikings field and be a part of something that’s larger than just Farmington.”
On the Eagan side of the stadium, Matt Moore echoed the sentiments.
“It’s an electric atmosphere. I’m really excited for the kids,” Moore said early in the first quarter. “They’ve been excited about this all week. We had Viktor the Viking come to our pep fest, and they loved it. The place just blew up when he came in. I haven’t seen this many students and community members at a football game ever, as far as I can remember.
“I think I see a little extra hop in the step of the players on both teams,” Moore added. “It feels like it means more. It’s more than just two teams going against each other – I feel like they’re celebrating football, and they do feel part of something bigger.”
Friday’s game marked the first of five total that will be played at TCO Performance Center during the 2018 season.
A second regular-season game will be played between Lakeville North and Prior Lake on Oct. 12, and three Minnesota State High School League quarterfinal playoff games will take place on the weekend of Nov. 9-10.
Farmington Head Coach Adam Fischer said that playing in the first of the Prep Spotlight games was a special opportunity.
“It’s really great for our program and for the whole community,” Fischer said. “We had a lot of fans coming up from Farmington, and the little Tigers, the future football players in our community, being able to see our guys out here and see them being successful is huge for our program. Hopefully it’s going to motivate them to want to get to where these guys are. These guys have worked really, really hard to get to where they’re at, and we’ll try to keep things rolling for our program.”