From SportsPrepZone.com

by Jason Olson
SportsPrepZone Editor

Blaine extended its streak to four consecutive wins over Anoka following Thursday’s 45-23 victory at Bengals Stadium.

Neither team was phased by the brief weather delay prior to the start of the game. Blaine’s offense produced 506 total yards while the defense intercepted Anoka quarterback Ben Britton’s first varsity pass to set up the home team’s first touchdown.

“(Britton) threw some balls tentatively, but he managed well, given it was his first game under the bright lights on Friday nights,” Anoka coach Jeff Buerkle said about his new quarterback who threw for 155 yards on 11-of-24 passing.

Thursday’s abnormally cool season opener was delayed after a brief, yet heavy band of rain and hail peppered the field and players during pre-game warm-ups, but that didn’t stop the Bengals.

Blaine senior quarterback Eric Kline found receiver Evan Spurbeck less than three minutes into game on a 29-yard touchdown, which made the Tornadoes pay for the early turnover.

Kline had a huge game, accounting for 397 yards of the 506 yards of total offense put up by the Bengals.

“We got off to a good start, but we thought the delay was going to disrupt the tempo of the offense, but it really didn’t,” Kline said, who had the biggest statistical game in the metro Thursday night. “Credit Anoka’s defense, though, for scheming totally different than the way we were planning on them to play.”

He completed 20-of-25 passes with three passing touchdowns and rushed 24 times for 93 yards with two more touchdowns.

“We want (Kline) to be himself, and not to have the pressure on him,” Blaine coach Shannon Gerrety said. “But really, it isn’t all about Eric because we have a lot of good football players.”

Blaine extended its lead to 24-0  before the midway point of the second quarter as receiver Duke Anyanwu scored from 19 yards out before Britton found Dominic Kingsberry on a very nice fade to the back corner of the end zone for a 29-yard touchdown.

Seeing how strong the Bengals are at the skilled positions, it is conceivable that Blaine can make a deep run into the playoffs again this season. They have a very strong and mostly experienced core of skilled position players this year including receiver Marcel Deveaux who led the receivers with eight catches for 135 yards and one touchdown.

Kline’s worked with all of the receivers this summer to get the timing down, especially Deveaux. “He’s a real playmaker like the rest of our guys,” Kline said. “I just get the ball out there for him to run under and he makes the play.”

Although it was the first game, Blaine’s defense again had trouble tackling, which led to Anoka closing the scoring gap.

“We’re a young defense and we know that we need to improve,” Gerrety said, pointing to tackling and scheme issues. “It’s a young and wisdom thing but experience is such a huge thing at the varsity level. We just need to settle down and stay composed and experience is the best teacher.

“We knew it was going to be a physical game because that’s how Anoka plays and the difference in the game really came down to our offensive skill (position) kids just making plays,” Gerrety said.

On the other side of the ball, Anoka’s offense struggled to establish a long drive, rather making one or two plays before stalling. “We really killed ourselves by not establishing drives on offense,” Buerkle said. “We made a great stand here and there on defense then (Blaine) has a big play.”

The running highlight for the Tornadoes came from junior fullback Josh Werness who kept his legs churning to break a couple tackles, spun away from another Blaine linebacker before racing the defense 24 yards for a touchdown with 4:03 left in the third quarter.

“I just had the mentality that we needed the yardage for the first down and I wasn’t going to get tackled,” Werness, a 5-foot-9-inch, 200-pound fullback, said.

Blaine travels to Maple Grove Friday, Sept. 10 before welcoming Champlin Park to Bengal Stadium Sept. 17.

Anoka’s schedule doesn’t get any easier with Champlin Park traveling to Goodrich Field for the annual “Battle for the Paddle” rivalry game, which has been played since 2001. Champlin Park has won each year since 2001. Anoka handed the Rebels a 34-19 defeat in the 2006 Section 7AAAAA final.

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Highlight videos of the Anoka vs Blaine game courtesy of Coon Rapids Sports on YouTube

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