At Bengal stadium, the gridiron is the place good men are grown.
Sure, there’s speed work and weight lifting, two-a-day practices and playbooks, but ask any Blaine High School football coach and he’ll tell you Bengal football is about building men.
The past 28 years, Shannon Gerrety has led that building project, but when he took Blaine’s activities director position earlier this summer, assistant coach Tom Develice stepped in as head coach.
Develice is a 14-year veteran of the Bengal football coaching line up, serving as co-offensive coordinator and coaching the offensive line, first under Dave Nelson and then coaching alongside Gerrety.
During Develice’s 14 years with the Bengals, Gerrety and his team of coaches racked up a 120-34 win-loss record, most recently making the state tournament in 2010 where the team lost to Wayzata, the eventual state champion.
Aug. 30 at Elk River, 7 p.m.
Sept. 7, Armstrong, 7 p.m.
Sept. 14 at Osseo, 7 p.m.
Sept. 21 at Maple Grove, 7 p.m.
HOMECOMING: Sept. 28, Coon Rapids, 7 p.m.
Oct. 5 at Champlin Park, 7 p.m.
Oct. 12, Centennial, 7 p.m.
Oct. 17, Anoka, 7 p.m.
Last season, the Bengals finished second in section 5AAAAAA with an overall 8-3 season record, losing a tough section championship in a 27-22 loss to Anoka.
This season, while there’s a different guy heading up Blaine’s gridiron greats, the philosophy remains unchanged.
Sitting in his activities director chair and describing his coaching philosophy last month, Gerrety said, “Coaching is about the kids. It’s about showing them that they are valuable, that what they do, what they bring is a gift. The wins and losses – that takes care of itself.”
And Gerrety’s successor echoed that coaching philosophy as he described his ultimate goal for the football team.
“We’re more concerned with making good men, creating men who are good people in society, productive in life, disciplined and trustworthy. The wins and losses take care of themselves on the field,” said Develice, as dozens of boys lined up to receive their gear before the 2012 season began.
Assistant coaches recognize and share that view.
“He’s a great guy, a really good coach that can really relate to the kids. He’s got the same philosophy, the same goals that Shannon (Gerrety) had, so the transition will be smooth. We’ll have a great year,” said freshman defensive line coach Ty Kytta, one of 22 coaches for Blaine football’s 250 players.
Doug Heruth, Bengal football defensive coordinator for the past 28 years, agreed that the head coach transition should go smoothly.
“Of course, it’s a big shift when a new head coach steps in, but Tommy (Develice) will be great,” he said. “There’s not going to be any changes… we’ll carry on and do what Shannon installed in the system. Tommy’s a great teacher, great with kids. He’ll carry it on just right.”
Develice said he’ll carry it on by establishing a balanced attack on offense, running a spread.
“You have to be able to run when you want to run, pass when you want to pass. It’ll be a balanced attack,” he said.
As they anticipate the 2012 football season, Bengal footballers seem to share the confidence expressed by their assistant coaches.
Defensive back/wide receiver and co-captain Joe Robel said, “(Develice) knows his stuff, he’s a good guy, he’s a smart coach and he loves the game. He’ll be great.”
Co-captain and offensive lineman Jake Hruska has high expectations of the 2012 football season under the direction of Develice, he said.
“He’s a great coach and a great teacher – he gets his point across and my goal is to make it to state again, and I think we can do it,” Hruska said.
Develice is a product of St. Mary’s Springs Academy High School in Fond du Lac, Wis., where he was offensive lineman and with his Ledgers teammates took home the state championship trophy his senior year.
The Bengals’ new head coach played Gopher football as defensive lineman in 1996 and 1997 and then became offensive line coach for Blaine High School in fall 1998.
Develice looks forward to a victorious first year as head coach for Blaine and counts his assistant coaches among his best playmakers.
“We have great commitment, great dedication from all our coaches – and Shannon might not be on the sidelines, but he’s still around. He’s still one of us. This will be quite the season for us,” said the new head coach.
Blaine Bengals (Northwest Suburban Conference)
Head coach Tom Develice
Record and 2011 finish: 8-3 overall, second in section 7AAAAA
Joe Robel (defensive back)
Josh Lamkin (defensive lineman)
Ryan Grahek (defensive back)
Kunle Ayinde (wide receiver)
Caleb Butler (offensive lineman)
Brandon Vee (offensive lineman)
Jake Hruska (offensive lineman)
Key stats for upcoming players:
Kunle Ayinde was the team’s leading receiver from 2011
Joe Robel was third in defensive points in 2011
Key stats from graduated seniors:
Stephen Schneider was leader in defensive points for the Bengals.
Duke Anyanwu had 1,998 total yards of offense for the Bengals
Luis Sanchez had 1,281 yards of rushing for the Bengals
Sue Austreng is at [email protected]