Lakeville North, STMA ready for first-ever playoff game at TCO Performance Center

They are two teams with one goal and that is to win.

“It’s going to be a dog fight, it’s going to be a war,” said St. Michael-Albertville Knights coach Jared Essler. “You’re playing a team, a really talented team and when you go out there, you need to have some confidence to you.”

Friday night, under the bright lights of the TCO Performance Center, the undefeated Lakeville North Panthers will face off against the St. Michael-Albertville Knights in the 6A football quarterfinal playoffs.

“Every year when this time of year comes around, it’s the best part of the season,” said Brian Vossen, the Lakeville North Football Coach.

“We’re just looking forward to the challenge,” said Essler.

The Minnesota Vikings’ practice field is familiar territory for the Panthers, who played here once this season. For the Knights, this will be the first time that they’ll sink their cleats into a playing field built for the pros.

“We’re pretty excited,” said TJ Duerr, a center and defensive tackle. “We know that we’re the underdog here in this situation and we’re coming out hard and play aggressive.”

“We’re super excited,” said Tommy Jensen, senior outside linebacker. “I mean we’ve had a great season so far and we’re just looking to keep it going.”

The road here leads to U.S. Bank Stadium, where both teams hope to compete for the state title.

“We’re excited about it, there’s only eight teams left and so we’re certainly excited to be one of those eight teams and to add in the neutral site at TCO is really going to be a lot of fun for us," Essler added.  

“We don’t have a team that wants to be done playing, so it’s a great opportunity and hopefully we keep winning and will be able to do it again next week,” said Vossen.