Two weeks in, St. Michael-Albertville has proved it belongs in Class 6A.
In just its second game after making the move to the state’s biggest class, the visiting Knights knocked off Blaine 40-20 on Friday.
The Bengals started strong, moving the ball down the field before scoring on a 1-yard run by Alex Pekula.
The Knights’ defense would tighten, however, while their offense used big plays to build a 21-7 lead late in the third quarter.
Blaine engineered a long drive to cut that lead in half with 1:09 left in the third quarter as Byron Bynum Jr. plunged into the end zone from three yards out.
But just two plays later the Knights reeled off a 65-yard touchdown run to extend their lead back to two possessions and seal the win.
“I thought in the first half our defense did a pretty good job against a very physical offense,” Blaine head coach Tom Develice said. “Besides for a couple big plays, our defensive kids did a great job. Offensively, we came out the first drive and did well, then struggled after that. Our defense was keeping the game close. Second half, we had a couple turnovers – one on downs and then a fumble – that gave them a short field and put the game out of hand.”
The Knights’ strong start didn’t catch the Bengals off-guard, with STMA excelling in recent seasons.
“No, we weren’t surprised,” Develice said. “We knew going into this game they were a very good football team. They were 5A State Champions two seasons ago, with a lot of these kids playing for them two seasons ago.”
Blaine will seek to get back on track at Osseo on Sept. 15, which bounced back from a 28-7 loss to Maple Grove with a 20-19 win over White Bear Lake.
“Our kids need to beat Osseo every day at practice,” Develice said. “We need to out-work them every single day, and as coaches we need to do a better job making sure our players are competing every single day. Osseo is huge upfront, physical and has great team speed. It’s another great opponent for us.”