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Posted by Guest (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 9/1/2012 6:54:40 PM

By Brian Jerzak
John’s Journal correspondent

It was opening night for South Suburban Conference football rivals Prior Lake and Eagan on Friday in Eagan. It was also opening night for The Pit, Eagan High School’s student section. With half of The Pit dressed in blue and the other half in green, The Pit dominated the home side of the Wildcats’ bleachers. I was able to talk with four Pit members: Ross, Hope, Raylen and Nick, this season’s Pit captains. During the game the four captains gave me an inside look at one of Minnesota’s longest-running student sections.

Pit Bit/ The Pit started with humble beginnings. It was just a few students who started some chants that the crowd responded to. From its grassroots beginnings, it has grown into an organized cheering section that among other things, has its own Facebook page and Twitter account that members use to communicate themes for each game and vote on class slogans.

The Pit – which this night stretched from 30-yard line to 30-yard line and was five rows deep -- didn’t have much to cheer about early as the Prior Lake Lakers recovered a fumble on the Wildcats’ first drive. The defending Class 5A Section 3 champion Lakers took advantage, first converting on a fourth and short and then finishing the drive with a Jack Johnson 3-yard touchdown plunge.

Pit Bit/ The only qualifications you need to be chosen as a Pit captain are to be loud, have school spirit, be a leader and not be afraid to make a fool of yourself in the name of firing up the crowd.

Eagan got on the board with a field goal to cut the lead to 7-3, but midway through the second quarter the Lakers started to get their ground game rolling. Johnson, a senior, did his work between the tackles while senior Connor Bednarek and junior Blake Weber attacked the edges of the Wildcat defense. An 85-yard drive was capped by yet another short Johnson touchdown run to extend the Lakers’ lead to 14-3.

Pit Bit/ Pit captains are nominated by the captains from the previous year. Good ways to get picked include staying loyal, dressing crazy and showing spirit not only at the games but in the hallways at school.

A long kickoff return set up the Wildcats with a chance to get back into the game. The nice field position preceded the play of the game. Eagan senior quarterback Mitch Seidel tossed a pass toward the corner and fellow senior Cole Peterson went up high, reached over the head of the defensive back – who had perfect position – and wrestled the ball away from the Lakers defender. As he hit the ground Peterson was able to keep his balance and twist his way into the end zone, completing a highlight-reel touchdown grab. Eagan converted the two-point conversion to make the score 14-11 at the half.

Pit Bit/ The Pit captains have a number of cheers they lead the rest of the group in, but the signature cheer has to be the old standby: Go Big Blue!

In the second half the physical play of Prior Lake’s offense wore down the Wildcats. They opened up the second half with a long, punishing drive that resulted in a field goal. The three-headed monster of Bednarek, Johnson and Weber – starting at the end of the first half – was too much for the Eagan defense to handle. The three running backs found their running lanes wider in the second half thanks to a dominate performance from the offensive line. Ryan Landherr, Robby Schultz, Cody Kohout, Luis Pinto and Drew Trabing made life pretty simple for the offense in the second half by controlling the clock even if they couldn’t score, keeping Eagan pinned deep.

Pit Bit/ The Pit consists of juniors and seniors. Juniors dress in green and seniors dress in blue. The official Pit flag has been passed down from year to year as has a green and blue hard hat – that has seen better days – worn by one of the captains.

The Lakers’ offensive line put together one last drive and set up Johnson’s third short touchdown run to put the game out of reach midway through the fourth quarter. The defense, which played great the majority of the game and kept Eagan’s spread offense under control, put a cap on the night when Weber dropped into a short zone from his linebacker position, picked off a pass and returned the pick for a touchdown to make the final score 30-11.

Pit Bit/ The Pit often travels to road games, although not with as many numbers, and has a strong presence at nearly all Eagan home sporting events. The result of the game didn’t dampen The Pit’s spirit as they were urging their team on until the very end. They will no doubt – win or lose – be back in force at the next Eagan High School sporting event.



 


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