With veteran players leading the way in 2011, Coeur d’Alene (Idaho) finished off a two-year run that included back-to-back Class 5A state championships.
The success sparked lofty expectations heading into 2012, but with a team that lacked the same experience it featured the previous season, it took time for the Vikings to find their footing.
It took time for quarterback Gunnar Amos to develop a consistent connection with junior Chase Blakley. This week, though, with Coeur d’Alene preparing for the state semifinals, that connection is clicking.
“The season, for me, started off pretty slow,” Blakley said. “We just didn’t start off on a good page at the beginning of the season. I didn’t have that many catches. But, since midseason, I’ve been starting to get the ball a lot.”
Through 10 games, the 6-foot-4, 214-pound tight end has 39 catches for 480 yards and six touchdowns. His top performance so far came during a 45-26 loss to Pocatello (Idaho) Highland when he caught nine passes for 135 yards and a touchdown.
Since that loss, the Vikings have won five in a row. Blakley has caught at least one pass in every game Coeur d’Alene has played this season.
While the Vikings only have two losses, Blakley stressed there has been significant improvement throughout the year. That growth has helped the Division I prospect learn valuable lessons as he has matured along with his teammates.
“Our team has learned a lot from our mistakes,” he said. “Over the last few weeks, we’ve started to play as a team. It’s helped out a great amount, since everyone is starting to work the ball around more.”
Blakley has scholarship offers from Washington, Idaho and Eastern Washington, but he said he is also drawing interest from Utah, Boise State, UCLA and Cal.
“I have a lot more schools that are interested in me now,” Blakley said. “I get a lot of letters and some of the coaches are contacting me on Facebook and things like that. That’s pretty cool.”
Because the Huskies were the first FBS program to extend an offer, they remain at the top of Blakley’s list. He isn’t in any rush to make a commitment.
“They’re pretty high on my radar right now, since that’s the only big offer I have right now,” he said. “I’m not going to make a decision anytime soon, but Washington is definitely my favorite right now and I will definitely be waiting for more offers from different schools.”
He wanted to take an unofficial visit to Saturday’s game against Utah but, with a Friday night playoff game in Southeast Idaho, he won’t be able to get to Seattle in time to watch Washington.
He does plan on attending this year's Apple Cup, as the Huskies play Washington State in Pullman, Wash.