MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - Late last spring, Blaine football coach Shannon Gerrety told his players they would be changing to a spread offense.
That meant completely new terminology, schemes and philosophy - effective immediately.
With a few months of preparation, the Bengals have used that offense to upset two Class 5A powerhouses and advance to the state championship game against Wayzata on Friday night.
"To put a system in and to play at the high level we are, and make the Prep Bowl in your first year using an offense, is pretty awesome," Gerrety said. "It has a lot to say about our system, coaches and players."
The spread offense - which typically features a shotgun formation and several receivers - has saturated the college game and trickled down to the high schools. It's becoming especially prevalent among big schools because of the larger enrollments needed to supply talent at several skill positions.
Blaine quarterback James Peterson is perfect for the Bengals' new system.
In the smaller classes, though, the smashmouth style is still king.
Glencoe-Silver Lake has found plenty of success running the ball and controlling the clock.
"A lot of these bigger schools want to go with the spread because that's what everyone else is doing, but we're strong believers in option run football," Panthers coach Scott Tschimperle said.
The Panthers play DeLaSalle on Saturday in search of a third straight state title.
Here's a glance at the matchups in this weekend's 27th Prep Bowl at the Metrodome:
Nine Man: Houston (13-0) vs. Clinton-Graceville-Beardsley (13-0), 10 a.m. Friday.
For the first time in six years, the Nine Man champion won't be Stephen-Argyle, which had its state-record 76-game winning streak end in the section final with a loss to Kittson County Central.
Class 1A: Royalton (12-1) vs. Kerkhoven-Murdock-Sunburg (11-2). 1 p.m. Friday.
Another matchup of teams without a state title. Both teams made the tournament last year, and both lost to eventual champion Goodhue.
Class 2A: Caledonia (12-1) vs. Luverne (12-1). 4 p.m. Friday.
Caledonia beat Luverne 14-7 in last year's 2A championship with a grinding running game, holding the ball for 10:26 of the 12 minutes in the fourth quarter. Either Caledonia or Luverne has played in each of the last four 2A championship games.
Class 3A: DeLaSalle (13-0) vs. Glencoe-Silver Lake (12-1). Noon Saturday.
This is another rematch of last season's championship game, although it wasn't nearly as close as Caledonia and Luverne.
Class 4A: Northfield (10-3) vs. Mankato West (12-1). 3 p.m. Saturday.
Mankato West beat Northfield 35-13 in the opening game of the season and will play for its third state title in just four tournament appearances.
Class 5A: Blaine (11-1) vs. Wayzata (12-0). 7 p.m. Friday.
Blaine will play for just its second title and first in 20 years. Wayzata won in 2005.
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