From SportsPrepZone.com

by Tom Yelle

Blaine cruised into the second-half of the 2010 football season this week with a perfect record, fresh off a 36-6 thumping of Centennial, a program which dealt Blaine misery in 2009.

“That was last year, this is this year,” said coach Shannon Gerrety. “We [Centennial and Blaine ] are two different teams and it is a brand new season. What happened last year has nothing to do with this season.”

Centennial beat Blaine twice in 2009, including for the 7AAAAA title and though it would be easy to suggest the 30-point spanking the Bengals administered during week 4 of the regular season was an act of revenge, it had nothing to do with getting payback.

Instead, and as usual, it had everything to do with earning the ultimate reward at the end of the regular season:

The top-seeded position for section playoffs and a first-round bye.

It is no different any other season, including last fall when Blaine secured a favorable tie-breaking edge to gain the top-seeded spot in 7AAAAA.

“The conference [title] is nice to get, but getting that No. 1 seed is what we want,” stated Gerrety. “And it is not always easy.”

Indeed, there is a major level of difficulty involved in securing the No. 1 seeded position. This year, Blaine will have to get past Coon Rapids , which had won three of its first four game and later, Andover , which had a matching 4-0 mark going into Week 5.

If Blaine should stumble, either challenger, Coon Rapids or Andover , could instantly snatch away the prize.

To make sure his players remain vigilant, Gerrety and his staff stress a simple “playing good each Friday” theme.

“We will take what is given to us, but we are trying to stay focussed on what we have to do each game to play well. Respecting what our opponents have, respecting what they can do and having each player understand what he has to do for us [as a team] to be successful is what this season is all about.”

Opponents that will be facing Blaine over the final four weeks of the regular season, then into the playoffs, have a lot to respect, too.

Like a young defense led by senior Mike Zrust, junior Steve Schneider and sophomore Joey Robel — all in the secondary. Together, they have helped the Blaine defense become a formidable unit that through the first four games this season was giving up a respectable average of 14 points and less than three yards per rush.

And with this defensive backfield trio picking off five opposition passes — including a team-leading three by Robel — Gerrety says: “We are more than just an offensive team with a good quarterback.”

In other words, keeping the offense off the field is not necessarily a key to beating Blaine .

But the offense is solid and the quarterback is definitely superb.

Now a senior, Eric Kline is not everything for Blaine , but make no mistake he is the most important aspect when it comes to the success of the offense. Through the first four weeks Kline had amassed 887 yards passing and thrown for five touchdowns and rushed for another 465 and nine more touchdowns.

“He [Kline] makes sure to get the ball in the hands of others,” said Gerrety, specifically noting that running back Ben Pigorsch scored three touchdowns last week in the win over Centennial. “Eric is still our go-to guy, who helps make things happen.”

Blaine , meantime, hopes good things continue to happen over the final four weeks of regular-season play even though Gerrety says there is still considerable room for improvement and fine-tuning.

“I just know that if we strive to play well each time out, then we should be in good shape against any opponent,” he added.

Possibly as the section’s No. 1 seed.

Perhaps, and yes, again.

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