Ricky Williams greeted me with enthusiasm, yet sounded inquisitive after I showed up for the annual prep football matchup between Robbinsdale Cooper and Robbinsdale Armstrong — which Cooper won 20-7 — on a cool Friday evening last week.
“So you made it all the way out here [from St. Paul] for this one,” said Williams, a well respected educator at Cooper as well as a member of the football team’s staff. “This game brings out everyone.”
He was right on both counts.
It had been two years since I’ve attended a Cooper game, and upon my arrival the stands were jam packed with fans supporting both schools, and for good reason. Not only was it the annual competition between arch rivals, it was also the culmination of homecoming week for Cooper.
“There is always a big crowd when these two teams play,” said Lisa Burch, a math teacher at Cooper who was working the back gate draped in an orange football jersey representing her school. “With this being homecoming game this year as well adds to the excitement.”
The host Hawks got things started in the first quarter after quarterback Cameron King connected with Phoenix Sproles for a 41-yard touchdown.
After Armstrong responded to take a 7-6 halftime lead, Cooper running back Onte Burns scored twice after intermission on runs of 25 and 23 yards to put the game out of reach.
Sproles recently committed to play at North Dakota State University next fall, while Burns plans to suit up for Montana State University.
In an interesting twist, the next day former Cooper standout Phil Howard, a redshirt freshman receiver at Minnesota, caught four passes for 46 yards in the Gophers’ 31-24 loss to Maryland in their Big Ten opener.
Mitchell Palmer McDonald welcomes reader responses to firstname.lastname@example.org.