James Peterson. Eric Kline. Duke Anyanwu. The roll call of recent Blaine quarterbacks is distinguished.
Junior Alex Copa is taking his turn this season, aware of the tradition but focused on leading his team. He's off to a solid start with the Bengals, who take a 2-0 record into a game at 7 p.m. Friday at Osseo (2-0).
Blaine runs a spread offense, a system that requires a quarterback to possess fleet feet and a solid arm. Copa has shown well in both facets. He ran 20 times for 116 yards and two touchdowns against Elk River, and threw for 212 yards and four scores against Robbinsdale Armstrong.
Blaine coach Tom Develice's appreciation for Copa's skills goes beyond numerical measure.
"He's so smart and that gives him great control of the game," Develice said. "He never puts the offense in a bad position."
Copa spoke with Star Tribune reporter David La Vaque about Blaine's rich quarterback tradition, the team's undefeated start and moonlighting as a punter.
Q How are you guys feeling about yourselves so far this season?
A We're for sure where we want to be right now given that we're 2-0. We're working hard and we improved from the first week to the second week. We want to keep improving so that we're at the top of our game by the end of the year.
Q What are some examples of your improvement so far?
A Our passing game really improved and we moved the ball a lot easier [against Robbinsdale Armstrong]. Our reads are getting clearer and we're making fewer mental errors.
Q There's a lot asked of you as the quarterback in a spread offense. How are you feeling about your performance so far?
A As long as we're getting the job done and winning, I'm happy with that. Learning all the reads was a struggle at the beginning but now everything is starting to slow down. I'm getting used to it all.
Q The last three quarterbacks at Blaine were all studs. What's it like taking on the challenge of performing at that level?
A There were for sure some big shoes to fill coming in. I want to keep the tradition going and I want to work hard and end up at the level they reached by the end of their high school careers.
Q Coach Develice likes your head for the game and he compared you to where Eric Kline was as a junior. Do you get caught up in comparing yourself to those former quarterbacks?
A I just kind of think about where I am and knowing what my strengths are. I want to make the smart plays and the easy plays out there. I don't really want to compare myself to anyone. I just want to be the best person I can be.
Q Talk about the matchup this week and bouncing back from a loss to the Orioles last year.
A We know they have a great team this year but we want to do everything we can to beat them and get a little revenge.
Q How did you become a punter? Did you have a lot of experience or were you one of those guys who punted for fun in practice and got the job?
A It was pretty much just messing around in practice. I never really thought I would be a good punter but I tried it one day and it worked out.
David La Vaque • 612-673-7574