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Rivalry renewed: With a lot on the line, East Ridge and Woodbury play each other in last game of memorable regular season

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Royals fans broke into a chant last week after Woodbury gritted out a huge 24-14 victory against Mounds View.

“We want East Ridge!” the fans shouted. “We want East Ridge!”

Guess who they’ll get on Friday night.

Woodbury (6-1, 5-1 East Metro Blue) will play East Ridge (6-1, 6-0) on Friday night in arguably the most monumental matchups between the two programs in the history of the rivalry. This season there’s a lot more than bragging rights on the line. 

As both programs have experienced successful seasons so far, the game on Friday night will determine the winner of the East Metro Blue subdivision. 

“I know this has been circled on their calendar for a while now,” East Ridge activities director Joel Olson said. “It’s progressed throughout the season as both teams have performed so well. That’s always a game that’s marked on the calendar. Now with the implications of seeding that raises it to another level.”

That’s not lost on Royals coach Andy Hill. 

“It’s not the same,” said Hill, who is normally cliche when talking about preparation for the next game on the schedule. “It’s a really big game for everyone. It’s a game for pride in the city of Woodbury. It’s a game with implications for the playoffs. And it’s a game we’ve been waiting to play since last season wrapped up.” 

These teams met twice last season — once in the regular season and once in the first round of the playoffs. East Ridge thoroughly dominated Woodbury en route to a 50-0 victory the first time around, and while the meeting in the playoffs was much closer, the end result was the same for both teams. 

It certainly won’t be as one-sided this time around as the Royals are much improved this season.  

Woodbury has completely turned the program around this season after finishing last season with a 1-8 record. 

East Ridge, on the other hand, battled through a tumultuous offseason, and seems like it’s starting to hit its stride at the right time. 

“We know it’s a big game,” Royals quarterback Brady Mundahl said. “We have to stay mentally focused.”

Olson said he’s anticipating a full house on Friday night — even more than the homecoming game a few weeks ago. 

“I think from a fan standpoint, even a casual, people are certainly going to come out to watch this game,” Olson said. “It’s going to be a lot of people.”

“It’s unique that a lot of the kids know each other,” Olson added. “It’s a rivalry where kids will go back and forth. I think it’s in good fun at the end of the day. I haven’t really observed meanness about it. It’s a competition and both teams really want to win. In the end, though, we know we’re neighbors.”

That said there will undoubtedly be a lot of trash talk between students at the crosstown schools this week. It’s a rivalry matchup after all. And this season it means a lot more than seasons in the past. 

“There isn’t any better way to end a season than to have the two schools meet each other and have a lot on the line,” Woodbury High School activities director Jason Gonnion said “We have people from both sides that are going to be there and they are really looking forward to it.”

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