First Prep Bowl at U.S. Bank Stadium thrills fans

- Friday Night Lights takes on a whole new meaning as the best teams in the state meet at U.S. Bank Stadium for the stadium's first Prep Bowl.

The Cleveland/Immanuel Lutheran High School football fans were fired up Friday morning – loud and excited with just about everybody decked out in Clipper orange, even their hairstyles.

"It's pretty remarkable,” said Katie Gregor, a Cleveland/Immanuel Lutheran fan. “The whole town and school is full of amazing spirit."

This was the team's first ever trip to a Prep Bowl Championship game. Getting the opportunity to play for the first ever state 9-Man title in the Vikings’ new home was certainly something to holler about.

"I always cheer too loud,” said Magda Higgins, whose grandson plays for the team. “The kids tell me to tone it down. But I can't. It's exciting."

In fact, this game meant so much to so many, the tiny Le Sueur County community of about 700 practically shut down the day after Thanksgiving, so residents and families could come up to Minneapolis.

The team tweeted out before the game “Game day!! Last one out of town shut off the lights. #clippernation."

"There is a lot of Orange around you,” said Jayna Steen, a Cleveland High School sophomore. “A lot. People from Le Center and St. Peter. Really fun.”

"It's a very small town,” said Higgins. “But they really pack the seats every game. Always. Lots of fans whether in town or out. It's great."

Unfortunately, Clipper Nation didn't get the storybook ending it wanted, losing to 9-Man power Grand Meadow  41-21.

But even in defeat, star quarterback Carter Kopet had to pinch himself after throwing three touchdowns inside this place.

"This place is amazing,” said Kopet. “I mean it's something as a team - win or lose. We're going to come out and remember this for the rest of our lives. It stinks now. But eventually, we'll be able to tell our kids we played here."

The 9-Man championship is just the start of the Prep Bowl Championships at U.S. Bank Stadium. Three more state titles will be won on Saturday.


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