/ Opinions / My favorite sports’ memory
Like most sports fans, I have many great memories when it comes to my favorite players and teams. Many moments stand out as epic and celebratory, but there is one that stands out more than any.
In 2011, my high school — St. Croix Lutheran High School in West St. Paul — had an elite football team and were winning games by a large margin, something that hadn’t happened in years previous.
As a sophomore, I hadn’t gone to many football games yet, but started to go to some that season. I watched with joy as I saw my fellow classmates run up and down the field, winning games and having fun.
The student section was always packed full and we had so much fun cheering our boys on to victory. It was a memorable time and we all knew something special was brewing.
We had an undefeated season thus far and entered the postseason as the favorites to make it to state.
The stakes were raised, but the results stayed the same. The Crusaders, our mascot, continued to win games by a large margin as we counted down to state. Sader Nation was happy and loud.
The time came for the section final, where we won by a large margin once again on our home field. It was a very exciting day as we advanced to state for just the second time in the history of Crusader football.
Then the games got tougher. Our first game came at a neutral site against a school called PEM — Plainview-Elgin-Millville. They had a good squad and came prepared.
The score went back-and-forth, but eventually a costly turnover gave us the momentum. We took that momentum and rode it out for the victory. It was a very fun game.
With the victory, we moved on to the state semifinals. It kept getting better and better. Now, the games were held at the Metrodome, the former home of the Vikings and Twins, amongst other teams. It was so fun to watch our team play in such a big and professional stadium.
This marked the furthest the Crusaders had ever advanced to state in football, and we weren’t satisfied with that.
Providence was our next challenge. After a high-scoring first quarter of fast-paced football, Providence proved they were worthy of being there.
But our boys locked in and dominated the other three quarters for another victory. Now, we were in the state finals and were one win away from the state championship.
The championship game came against Fairmont. These were two great teams battling it out for the right to become state champions, and it’s a game I’ll never forget.
Like I mentioned earlier, we were undefeated and wanted to finish the season in the perfect way. I believe Fairmont had at least one loss.
The game turned into an instant classic. Both teams showed stingy defense, yet clutch offense. No team ran away with it as the game went into halftime deadlocked at 14-14.
I wanted to win this game so bad. We all did — players, coaches, students, parents, fans, etc. It was a magical season and we were all having so much fun. Winning this game would make history.
Fairmont played extremely well, looking like a state champion in the second half. The play that changed the game came in the fourth quarter. On fourth down, we ran a trick play to get one of our running backs wide open down the sideline. He caught it for an easy touchdown. We were up 28-26 with less than four minutes to play.
We absolutely erupted in the stands. That play changed the game and gave us a shot to win.
After a number of crazy events and sequences, Fairmont found themselves down two and needed a 2-point conversion to tie the game with seconds to go.
We batted the ball down, won the game and became state football champions for the first time in school history.
The final score was 34-32. It’s my favorite memory because of how it bonded us as a student body as well as the community. We all were so invested and cared so much, because they were the people we loved. These were classmates, friends and family. I wanted them to win it so badly and I’m so proud of them.
To be able to say I was there, that I was a part of history, is something I’ll never forget and cherish forever.
That state championship started an elite run of consecutive state appearances, something that had never been done before in the program’s history. I am also proud to say we were state champions again in 2013, my senior year.
It was my school and they were my classmates. I’ll always be a Crusader for life. And because of that, it’ll always be my favorite sports’ memory.