On a clear, still Sept. 28 evening Coon Rapids students wore blaze orange and entered Blaine territory, rooting as if they were on a Bengal hunting safari.
But Cardinal footballers’ aim was low, shots off target and the visiting team was nearly powerless as the Bengals claimed a 56-7 homecoming football game victory.
“We weren’t expecting that kind of a win at all – Coon Rapids is always a great rivalry game for us,” said Blaine’s head coach Tom Develice.
“We tell our players all the time that the scoreboard takes care of itself if you do the right things.”
Blaine was just too powerful and too fast for Coon Rapids. With a series of runs, bubble screens and long passes the Bengals overwhelmed the Cardinals.
Whatever chance Coon Rapids had to get back in the game was offset by the Cards’ numerous fumbles.
The Bengals’ control of the game started early on.
On its first series of the game Bengal quarterback Alex Copa pitched the ball to wide receiver Kunle Ayinde for a 28-yard gain. On the next play, Copa heaved the pigskin to Joe Robel for a 56-yard touchdown pass.
Zach Wright’s kick was good and the Bengals took an early 7-0 lead.
Four minutes later, Blaine scored another touchdown, ending the first quarter with a 14-0 lead.
The Bengals kept that blistering pace alive, entering the end zone twice in the second quarter and four times in the third before allowing the Cardinals their only score, a 22-yard touchdown run by wide receiver Mike Smith at the two-minute mark of the fourth quarter.
Copa led the Bengals in rushing with 84 yards on seven attempts. He also completed 12 of his 21 pass attempts, each averaging about 10.5 yards with the longest being the 56-yard touchdown pass to Robel.
Robel led the Bengals in receiving with 99 total yards.
Ayinde scored three of the Bengals’ eight homecoming touchdowns.
“We took care of the football and played extremely physical on defense,” Develice said on review of the game.
“We had one fumble in the game, but otherwise we didn’t give Coon Rapids chances to come back. Our defense was all over the place – every time I looked we had five or six guys on every tackle.”
Coon Rapids head coach Jon Young offered some direction to his Cardinal football team.
“Winning comes down to doing the little things extraordinarily well over a long period of time so you can win your one-on-one battles a high majority of the time,” said Young.
“Blaine is a very good football team and we helped them look great. They took advantage of our weaknesses and played a solid game.”
While the Cardinals remain winless for the season, Blaine boasts a 3-2 win-loss record.
Next, the Bengals travel to Champlin Park to face the Rebels, also 3-2 for the season.
“Champlin Park is a very good football team and it will be a great game Friday night,” Develice said. “They have a very good offense with great size up front, a great running back and really good receivers – it will be a great challenge for our defense.”
As for Coon Rapids, it plays host to the 1-3 Anoka Tornadoes and hopes to put the Cardinals in the win column.
“Coon Rapids has not performed as well as other teams… and we are trying to improve on these skills daily,” Young said.
Notes from the sidelines
Other Sept. 28 Northwest Suburban and North Suburban Conference games played out like this:
Andover 13, Osseo 22
Anoka 28, Maple Grove 41
St. Francis 14, Chisago Lakes 41
Spring Lake Park 39, North St. Paul 0
Sue Austreng is at