Woodbury teammates Parker Theis and Cole Smutny stepped onto the U.S. Bank Stadium turf on Saturday, Dec. 7, and they looked at each other.
There was a smile across each of their faces as their dream had finally came true. The two of them have always had a dream of playing on this field during their high school careers.
In their final game as high school players, that dream becomes a reality.
“We always wanted to play at U.S. Bank Stadium during high school,” Smutny said. “We wanted to get here as a team, but to share this time with Parker is unbelievable.”
Smutny and Theis received letters in the mail near the end of the football season and it was an invitation to play in the Minnesota Showcase. It’s a game held for the top senior football players in the state and it’s played at U.S. Bank Stadium.
Along with the two players, the Woodbury head coach Andy Hill was chosen as one of the assistants for Team South. Hill said he had a great time this week and being a part of this experience.
The two players started this journey on Tuesday when they checked into their rooms, met their roommates for the upcoming week and proceeded to learn new plays for the game on Saturday.
“At first, you don’t really know anyone and it’s kind of intimidating,” Theis said. “Once you practice with them and spend some time together as teammates, they become really good friends. It’s been a lot of fun this week.”
Smutny, a linebacker, and Theis, an offensive lineman, had their opportunities to showcase their versatility throughout the game on Saturday.
Theis came onto the field for the offense’s second drive and usually came out every other offensive possession for Team South. He started as an offensive lineman, but proceeded to have some fun as a wide receiver.
In the middle of the game, Team South threw a normal pass to one of its wide receivers. Before he was tackled to the ground, he flipped the ball behind him to Theis and he ran down the sideline for a large gain.
“That was a really fun play they designed and I was just happy I caught it,” Theis said. “It’s great to have a memory of a play like that on your last high school football game of your career.”
Smutny also had his share of time on the field, but focused on the defense as a linebacker. Team South would switch defensive players after a handful of plays, but Smutny had all eyes on him for one play in the red zone.
Team North was driving and had all of the momentum as they faced a fourth down and short at the two- or three-yard line.
Team North handed the ball off to the running back and he went to his right to get around all of the linemen, but Smutny was the only defender preventing him from the end zone.
He grabbed the running back with both arms and threw him on the ground to force a turnover on downs.
“It was fun being able to have a play like that in the game,” Smutny said. “Honestly today has been so much fun and this week too.”
Smutny and Theis finished their high school careers with a win as Team South defeated Team North 13-3, but honestly it’s the experience all week long that will stay in the two Woodbury players’ hearts.
“It’s been an honor being able to represent Woodbury in this game,” Smutny said. “That community has done so much for us and we really appreciate their support throughout our entire careers.”
“The opportunity to put that Woodbury helmet on one last time here and show off that Royals community is really special for us as players,” Theis said. “I can’t thank the community enough for everything they’ve done for the two of us because it’s truly appreciated.”