Archive for September, 2010

This season we’ll have a weekly segment called “The Big One” where we feature a game with post-game articles and/or analysis including video from our friends at Coon Rapids Sports on YouTube.  Our next “Big One” of the 2010 season will be Coon Rapids @ Blaine on Friday, October 1st (7:00pm).

Coon Rapids vs Blaine historically has been a big rivalry but it’s become less so for Blaine as they’ve completely dominated the series the last 10-15 years.  This season Blaine is off to a 4-0 start and has really only worked up a sweat once (week 3 vs Champlin Park).  They appear to be the team to beat in the conference and this game is their “homecoming” game.  Coon Rapids is off to a good start at 3-1 but enters this game on the heels of a heartbreaking double-overtime loss at Champlin Park.  All signs are pointing towards a Blaine drubbing.

A season ago Blaine won this game easily, 42-14.  Some bright spots emerged from that game however.  Coon Rapids opened the playbook and began moving the ball through the air which is something that teams have been able to do against Blaine this season.

Highlight videos of last seasons Blaine vs Coon Rapids game courtesy of Coon Rapids Sports on YouTube

Coon Rapids is a better defensive team than they were a season ago.  They have more skill on offense and they already have more wins than they had a season ago and they’ve only played four games.  But are they ready to compete with the big boys of the Northwest Suburban Conference?  For most of the second half last week I saw a team that expected to win but when the pressure turned up a notch I saw a team that was afraid to lose.

If Coon Rapids has any hopes of knocking off Blaine they must maintain an aggressive attitude/approach from start to finish.  Offensively they will need to utilize the pass more and take some shots down the field.  Defensively they are going to have to find a way to contain Blaine’s dual-threat quarterback Eric Kline (Sr).  Force him to beat you from the pocket and prevent wide receiver Marcel Deveaux (Sr) from getting behind the secondary for a big play.  These things are much easier said than done!

Other A-B-C games this week:

* Champlin Park @ (7) Andover
* Anoka @ Osseo



The spread offense, and its variations, require the man in the middle to be athletic enough to multi-task on every play.

By DAVID La VAQUE, Star Tribune

Quarterbacks, running backs and wide receivers, the athletes who pile up yardage and score touchdowns, long have been considered football’s skill positions.

But running an effective spread offense — a wide-open formation gaining popularity in Minnesota high school programs — owes much to the less-heralded position of center.

Take Blaine senior Kyle Foster, for example. Moved to starting center this fall, Foster touches the ball every play and must snap it about 5 yards to quarterback Eric Kline. And just getting it there is not enough. If the play is designed to go right, the ball must be to Kline’s right. Missing a specific spot, forcing Kline to even lean, hop or bend, can derail an entire play’s timing. If that is not enough pressure, some 250-pound nose tackle is crashing into Foster a split-second after the snap.

“We put Kyle at center this year because we wanted our best offensive lineman to be our center,” Blaine coach Shannon Gerrety said. “Without a good snap, nothing happens.”

Blaine, Eagan, Minnetonka and Osseo run the spread or other similar formations that ask a lot of a center. Coaches of those programs agree that the center position has evolved. Good ol’ grit is not enough. Centers must now possess equal parts athletic grace. Foster wrestles in the winter and is a thrower for the Bengals track and field team. Eagan center Tommy Bodeker starts in goal for the Wildcats’ hockey team, and Osseo’s Matt Catton plays basketball. Minnetonka’s John Dawson is not a multi-sport athlete but is nimble enough to pull and lead running plays.

The emphasis on athleticism trumps even size. Eagan coach Rick Sutton has been running the spread offenses in his programs for more than a decade.

“The center has always been the guy we want to be the most athletic.” Sutton said. Bodeker (200 pounds) and Foster (235) are not the biggest linemen on their respective teams and are often lighter than the opposition’s nose tackles. But both were recruited to play center because as Sutton said, “The center has to be a guy who is doing the little things right all the time.”

Gerrety called Foster a “ferocious and determined” competitor, something the coach has long looked for in the position. Gerrety was Blaine’s defensive coordinator 15 years ago when the shotgun formation began popping up around the state. To counter, Gerrety instructed his nose tackles to get after the center, to break him down through constant pressure.

So when Blaine installed the spread before the 2008 season — a switch that moved Blaine from a stagnant program to Prep Bowl runners-up — he knew “we couldn’t mess around.” He instructed assistant coaches to evaluate potential centers as early as ninth grade.

And like Sutton, Gerrety issues each of his centers a football for the summer. Foster and Kline worked on snaps twice a week last winter and three times a week this summer. Each session included 30 to 50 snaps. But Foster’s offseason work did not immediately translate into success.

“I had a lot of trouble the first few days of two-a-days,” Foster said. “I got too focused on blocking before I would get the snap off. And the snap has got to be there. When I was a tackle, I could get away with a mistake once in awhile. At center, every play has to be perfect.”

Here’s what I “think” after the fourth week of the 2010 football season…

  • Coon Rapids has more skill on offense then they had a year ago but most importantly they have a much improved defense.  Defense has consistently been an issue for the Cardinals over the years and it is the main reason they are 3-1 this season.  If they’d stayed aggressive until the final whistle against Champlin Park they would have won that game.  For some reason the Cardinals always seem to find a way to lose games.  Fixing that will lift them into the top tier of the conference.
  • Blaine showed their superiority once again this past week by dominating Centennial.  They still have Osseo and Andover on their schedule but I’m not sure their is a team in this conference that can beat them.
  • Anoka competed this week which was good to see.  If they keep competing they will pull themselves out of the conference cellar.
  • It might not have been spectacular but a win is a win.  Andover is still unbeaten (4-0) and they welcome their biggest challenge of the season to date this week as the Champlin Park Rebels visit Husky Stadium.  If they win that game they should go into the Blaine game (October 15th) still unbeaten.


Results from Week 4 (home team in bold):
– Andover over Anoka, 28-14
– Blaine over Centennial, 36-6
Champlin Park over Coon Rapids, 29-28 (2OT)
– Maple Grove over Park Center, 19-12
– Osseo over Robbinsdale Armstrong, 36-0


Northwest Suburban Conference Standings (after week 4)

School Conf Overall Pts For Pts Agst Streak
Andover 4-0 4-0 130 69 W4
Blaine 4-0 4-0 136 56 W4
Osseo 3-0 3-1 112 33 W2
Champlin Park 3-1 3-1 108 79 W1
Coon Rapids 3-1 3-1 101 68 L1
Centennial 1-2 1-3 88 120 L1
Maple Grove 1-3 1-3 32 101 W1
Anoka 0-4 0-4 63 121 L4
Park Center 0-4 0-4 50 122 L4
Robbinsdale Armstrong 0-4 0-4 33 112 L4


by Jason Olson
SportsPrepZone Editor

Blaine returned to the site of the of the Section 7-AAAAA championship game at Centennial High School, walking away with the Week 4 win, 36-6. The Bengals (4-0) moved up two spots in the state rankings, trailing only Eden Prairie and Cretin-Derham Hall after the defense held the Cougars to six points, equalling a season low while the offense posted its second highest total.

Blaine running back Ben Pigorsch scored three times on runs of five, one and one yards out while quarterback Eric Kline scored two running touchdowns to start the game on runs of 18 and seven yards.

The Bengals outgunned Centennial 366 yards to 198 which speaks to the Blaine defense who forced four turnovers in the game too.

Blaine returns to Bengals Stadium Oct. 1 to face Coon Rapids (2-1) for Homecoming. Kickoff set for 7 p.m.

With less than 2 minutes remaining Coon Rapids had the ball inside Champlin Park’s 40 yard line and appeared to be on their way to a victory and an improbable 4-0 start to begin the 2010 season.  They failed to get a final first down that would have sealed the game, failed to make a field goal that would have sealed the game, failed to stop the Rebels offense on a couple of 4th down plays that would have sealed the game, then failed to keep them out of the endzone which sent the game into overtime.  With 20 seconds remaining wide receiver Paris Woods (Jr) slid inside a Coon Rapids defender and pulled the pass down from quarterback Nick Frohreich (Jr) tying the game at 14-14.  Two overtimes later Champlin Park running back Michael Sales (So) plunged into the endzone converting a two-point conversion to win the game 29-28.

It took Champlin Park a half to realize they were playing another game after the emotionally draining loss the previous week to the Blaine Bengals.  By that point the Coon Rapids Cardinals were poised for the upset and were starting to control the game.  After a scoreless first half Coon Rapids succeeded on a second half kickoff gamble when Tom Hanson (Sr) recovered a pooch kick giving them the ball deep in Champlin Park territory.  A few plays later quarterback Alex Aase (Jr) fired a laser to Sean Bush (Jr) who dragged a Champlin Park defender into the endzone for the first score of the game.  The lead was short lived as the Rebels responded with a touchdown drive of their own tying the game at 7-7.  The Cardinals made it clear on their next possession that they planned on being in this game to the finish with their best drive of the game to reclaim the lead 14-7 on a short Antonio Ford (Jr) touchdown run.

The story for Coon Rapids this season hasn’t been their offense it has been their defense.  In their first three games of the season they hadn’t given up a single point in the second half to any opponent.  The defense was why they were 3-0 and a big reason they were on the verge of an improbable fourth straight victory to start the season.  Against Champlin Park the Cardinals defense, which had employed a “bend but don’t break” approach to perfection all game long, would be called upon for one more stop.  Soft coverage and an inability to contain Champlin Park’s primary offensive weapon (Sales) opened the door for an epic 2-minute drive.  In less than 2 minutes, without a single timeout remaining, the Champlin Park Rebels raced down the field on the passive Coon Rapids defense sending the game into overtime where they broke the Cardinals’ hearts and stole a victory from their grasp.

Coon Rapids (3-1) will have to find a way to pick themselves up quickly as they travel to Blaine next week to face the unbeaten Bengals (4-0) on their homecoming.  Champlin Park (3-1) has to recover from a second straight emotional game as they hit the road to face the unbeaten Andover Huskies (4-0).


Highlight videos of the Coon Rapids vs Champlin Park game courtesy of Coon Rapids Sports on YouTube


by Jason Olson
SportsPrepZone Editor

Seventh-ranked Andover (4-0) continued the latest tradition in its on-going rivalry with Anoka (0-4) in which the visiting team seems to be favored as the Huskies walked out of Goodrich Field with a 27-17 win Friday night.

Anoka carried a 10-7 lead at the half before Andover opened the second half with a 60-yard scoring drive to lead 14-10. With the score 20-17, Andover linebacker Ryan Emmerich returned an interception 33 yards to make it a two-score game with just over three minutes remaining. Anoka responded with its own lengthy drive before they stalled on the five yard line as Andover ‘s defense came through again late in the fourth quarter. It was Tyler Bridgeman’s turn at making the big play as he intercepted a pass from Anoka quarterback Ben Britton in the end zone to extinguish any hopes of Anoka breaking into the win column.

“Those two picks were huge and it was a kind of bend-don’t-break defense for us tonight,” Andover coach Rich Wilkie said after Anoka managed to pass its way around the field more efficiently than running on the ground.”We had a lot of penalties again, like we did last week so that will be something to work on during the week.”

Andover ‘s offense continued to churn out yardage and scores from quarterback Tyler Finnes and running back Cole Werness. The two traded touchdowns with Finnes finding the end zone three times compared to Werness crossing the goal line twice.

“It’s definitely a rivalry-type game with a really good atmosphere,” Wilkie said about walking into the storied-field as the visitors. “Most of our kids would’ve gone to Anoka so they kind of develop a rivalry from that.”

Wilkie said the goal for the previous week was to figure out a way to offer a more balanced attack so they could disguise the pass more than they have through the first half of the regular season. “We just didn’t want to get stuck in obvious passing situations,” he said. “And obviously every team has a different recipe to stop you but its our job to make those in-game adjustments.”

Entering halftime on the losing end didn’t sit well with Wilkie. “The kids did a good job of handling the adversity of being down at half and defensively we’re just trying to get better. “It’s all about tackling and being in the right spots, which we were tonight on the two biggest plays.”

Champlin Park visits Andover Oct. 1 in a match-up that will test the strong Huskies defensive line and linebackers against sophomore running back Michael Sales. The Rebels struggled at home before disposing of Coon Rapids in double overtime 29-28. It will also be the second game against a ranked opponent in three weeks. The Rebels lost at No. 5 Blaine 28-21 Sept 17.


Provided By: Associated Press

Class 5A State Football Rankings (as of 9/22/2010)

1 Eden Prairie Eagles (4-0)
2 Cretin-Derham Hall (3-0)
3 Wayzata (3-0)
4 Mounds View (3-0)
5 Blaine (3-0)
6 Rosemount (3-0)
7 Andover (3-0)
8 Minnetonka (2-1)
9 Brainerd (3-0)
10 Hopkins (3-0)
10 Lakeville North (3-0)

Others receiving votes: Champlin Park, Rochester Century, East Ridge, Stillwater