From StarTribune.com

In a word, Blaine senior inside linebacker Chris Thomas is different.

Some linebackers are bigger. Some make more tackles. But few, if any, change games like Thomas. His five forced fumbles and four defensive touchdowns (two interception returns, two fumble recoveries) this season set him apart.

“He is the Eric Kline of our defense,” said Bengals’ football coach Shannon Gerrety. Kline, Blaine’s quarterback, has accounted for 3,002 total yards and 34 touchdowns this season. “Anytime Chris is around the ball, something good happens.”

With Thomas leading the defense, No. 2 ranked Blaine (10-0) opens play in the Class 5A tournament quarterfinals against No. 1 Wayzata (8-0) at 7 p.m. Friday at Osseo High School. The game is a rematch of the 2008 Prep Bowl game won by the Trojans.

Thomas would like to see a different outcome this time.

“This is my first time ever making it to a state tournament,” Thomas said. “It’s a good feeling, and I want to make the best of it.”

Thomas spoke with Star Tribune reporter David La Vaque about making plays and going to state.

Q I know there’s a lot to come, but talk about the ride this team has been on so far.

A It’s been a surreal season. We have great players on this team, and together we did what we set out to do so far — win the conference title and win the section title. We still have a long road ahead of us against the good teams that are in the state tournament, but we know we can do it.

Q Each year the Blaine football team has a slogan. What is it this season?

A We’re all in this year. We work hard every day.

Q Talk about your season. Four defensive touchdowns is impressive.

A I just try hard to get turnovers. The touchdowns are just bonuses. I made some good plays last season, but nothing like this. It’s an amazing feeling to score touchdowns, especially when you’re not an offensive player.

Q Do your friends on the defense call you their version of Eric Kline or anything?

A No [laughs]. Eric is an amazing player, and he’s the captain of our football team. He gives off amazing energy, and I respect him for that.

Q Your two interceptions that led to touchdowns — did those start with your film study and knowing what to look for?

A As a linebacker, I have certain reads to go through. And I pretty much just followed through with my reads and they took me right to where I needed to be. Fortunately enough I’ve made the plays.

Q As you look ahead to Wayzata, what have you and your teammates talked about in terms of that matchup?

A Wayzata is a great team, and we have a lot of work ahead of us. We’ll put the work in at practice and whatever happens, happens. I think we’re a pretty confident team. And we have a great defense. We do what we have to do to take care of business.

Q What do you remember about the Blaine-Wayzata championship game from 2008?

A Actually I was living in Louisiana. I came to Blaine as a junior.

Q So what do you think of football in Minnesota compared to what you experienced in Louisiana?

A There is a big difference. The athletes down there are a lot bigger. And football down there is life. Football is important up here, but it’s a hockey state.

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