Scholar and athlete meet in the middle of Eden Prairie’s offensive line

It's hard to tell where the scholar ends and the athlete begins in Eden Prairie scholar-athlete Will Sather.

Sather, a 6-1, 275-pound senior, is the center on an undefeated football team, and he has all the physical attributes teams look for: an explosive first step, lateral agility, the strength to move people, the ability to succeed in tight, hand-to-hand combat. He's an athlete.

Sather is also a 4.0 student at Eden Prairie, taking a full load of classes heavy with AP courses. He leans towards math and science. He's headed to the Ivy League for college. He's a scholar.

To the mix Sather adds humility, a dollop of perspective and a large scoop of necessary grit. Scholarly?

And is it the scholar or the athlete who innately understands leverage and how to use it?

It all comes together to form the leader of the No. 1 football team in Class 6A, one aiming to qualify Friday night for the Prep Bowl. Eden Prairie (11-0) faces Edina (8-3) in the Class 6A semifinals at U.S. Bank Stadium.

Sather sounds pretty comfortable with mixing his studies and his sports.

"It's about finding the balance," said Sather, who is also a well-established heavyweight wrestler, winner of the Class 3A state championship as a sophomore and runner-up a year ago. "And staying in the moment, because there are times when things get really busy."

Sather thrives on busy. He's been a wrestler since kindergarten (when he was so light on his feet he was tagged "Twinkletoes") and a footballer since third grade.

"It's important to me to push myself," Sather said. "And I look forward to schoolwork. Sometimes it's a great break to get my mind off of football."

For Sather, success in the classroom is in line with the image he tries to present. He's well-spoken on purpose.

"I don't want to say anything stupid," he said. "When other kids say stuff, it always rubs me the wrong way."

So he doesn't partake in boasting and trash-talking, but he's not above listening and reacting.

"I love bulletin board material. It gets me fired up," he said.

Eden Prairie's success this season has come behind the offensive line led by Sather, a group averaging 6-3½ and 278 pounds, "my closest buddies," Sather said. "We've been playing together since we were in third grade."

Sather and fellow seniors Hayden Broich, Ethan Sims, Patrick Ruhlin and Raj Sidhu impose their will on opponents.

"It's easy to play running back when you're not even touched until [you get to a] linebacker or safety," Eden Prairie running back Dominic Heim told the Star Tribune after the Eagles steamrolled Lakeville North in the state quarterfinals.

Lakeville North coach Brian Vossen said of Eden Prairie's offense, "It's a slow bleed."

Sather is hoping Eden Prairie gets two more games this season, which would place the Eagles in the Prep Bowl the day after Thanksgiving.

Then it's back to the wrestling mat, where Sather will chase more excellence. This summer he'll become an Ivy Leaguer, joining the Princeton University football and wrestling teams.

This fall there's still the remainder of football season to cherish.

"Not a lot of kids get to play at U.S. Bank Stadium," Sather said. "I don't want to take that for granted, but I hope to take full advantage of it."