Last weekend I had the privilege of catching the Coon Rapids Homecoming football game and while the end result was abysmal for Coon Rapids fans (41-14 loss to Blaine), the mood inside the stadium was 180 degrees different.
Cardinals senior receiver Alex Boxwell thrilled fans with two highlight-reel touchdowns of 80 and 54 yards en route to a 200-plus yards receiving night.
The real story from the game was how Cardinal National showed its pride.
That pride started before the bleachers were filled at Cardinals Stadium.
Cardinal Nation is what the super fans or uberfans at Coon Rapids are called and represents more than just cheering on the community high school sports teams.
It’s taking pride in classmates and the Coon Rapids community in setting and achieving goals.
Look no further than senior Dakota Forness for an example of how motivation works.
Forness has cerebral palsy and shared his message of reaching goals with the crowd gathered inside the fieldhouse for the annual pep fest.
After talking about it, Forness shocked the crowd by walking across the fieldhouse’s basketball court.
How is that for motivation?
Between the cheers of support and wiping away tears of joy, the message was received.
Forness’ day wasn’t done as he led the football team onto the field with the Cardinal Nation flag to another rousing cheer from the red and white faithful. The smile and cheer from Forness in response to the packed student section going crazy was quite the unforgettable moment.
Another group of seniors sprinted across the field before the Cardinals cross country team carried the game ball to the 50-yard line after a run from Blaine High School, another strong tradition.
Many runners wore Cardinals gear, but a few dressed up for the occasion, like one runner in a monkey costume.
The Marching Cardinals did their best rendition of “The Electric Slide” waiting to play the “Star Spangled Banner” on the track in front of the home stands and performed a spectacular half-time routine.
During the game, it was announced upcoming Cardinal Nation events – another chance to show school spirit in the stands during other Cardinals games.
A few other quick tidbits:
• The Minnesota Vikings finally won a game, technically a home game in London. I hope the Brits liked seeing Adrian Peterson bust loose on a 60-plus yard touchdown run. Perhaps Matt Cassel is the quarterback the team was looking for?
I hope he stays upright and healthy because I don’t see Christian Ponder as the long-term fix for the Vikings quarterback woes. Cassel’s composure is what sets him apart from Ponder and we’ll see if that translates to more wins after the bye week.
• I will be keeping an eye on three other NHL teams besides the local club. Florida Panther and Blaine graduate Nick Bjugstad missed the start of the season after sustaining a concussion at the end of a rookie tournament.
He scored once in 11 games at the end of the 2012-13 season in April and scored four goals in the three-game tournament. According to media reports, he was going to make the opening night 23-man roster.
David Backes (Spring Lake Park) and his St. Louis Blues opened the season with a 4-2 win against Nashville, the new home of Blaine grad Matt Hendricks. Backes received the No. 1 star for the game with one goal and assist with two shots and two hits in 17:27 of ice time.
Hendricks signed with the Predators after three seasons in Washington and had a pair of hits and shots in 13:40 ice time.
With the new divisions and scheduling the Predators visit St. Paul three times (Oct. 22, Feb. 6 and the regular season finale April 13).
The Blues come to town New Year’s Eve, Dec. 31, March 9 and April 10. The Panthers visit Minnesota Nov. 15.