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Post Falls coach Blaine Bennett uses big-time college experience to boost Trojans

UPDATED: Thu., Sept. 17, 2020

Like the defenses high-scoring Post Falls has split in Blaine Bennett’s five seasons as head coach, he separates his long and assorted career into two distinct chapters.

The first was a decadeslong pursuit.

From his time as quarterbacks coach and recruiting coordinator at Purdue, a receivers coach at Michigan State and two head coaching gigs at NCAA Division II Central Washington and Western Oregon, Bennett, who began as a graduate assistant at Washington State in 1988 under Dennis Erickson, was immersed in college football.

He worked alongside the late Joe Tiller at Purdue in the early 2000s, grooming Kyle Orton into an All-Big 10 quarterback and eventual NFL starter. His 2009 Central Washington team finished No. 3 in the country.

Bennett, 56, now leads a budding Post Falls High School program (34.6 points per game) aiming for a third consecutive postseason berth.

The Trojans (2-1) host Inland Empire League rival Lake City (1-2) on Friday.

“This is a second career,” the former Idaho and Whitworth quarterback said. “I had the college experience and was ready for something different. I also love where I live. That’s important.”

His resume remains college-worthy.

Bennett helped Western Oregon make the transition from NAIA to NCAA Division II, going from 2-7 his first year (1995) to winning the Great Northwest Athletic Conference title and a national playoff berth two years later.

He went 41-16 at Central Washington in five seasons (2008-12), leading the Wildcats to four GNAC titles.

The Ellensburg school fired Bennett in 2013 for reported violations – including purchasing alcohol with school funds for a coaching clinic – that Bennett has denied.

“College football is a business, you need to perform,” said Bennett, who was paid $179,812 of his remaining contract when he and CWU parted ways. “The calendar is so different, you’re always recruiting.

“(At Post Falls), I can really focus on the kids. We have great kids.”

Bennett found work as a professional head coach in Austria before returning to the United States, where he was a teacher and assistant coach in the Boise area at Eagle High School.

Bennett, who passed for nearly 4,000 yards in two seasons at Whitworth after getting buried on the depth chart at Idaho, missed living in the Spokane-Coeur d’Alene area, though, and applied for a math position at Post Falls High in 2015.

He was hired and also became an assistant under former head coach Jeff Hinz, who was battling cancer and succumbed to the disease in the summer of 2016.

Bennett was given an interim head coaching tag the following season and kept the job.

“(Hinz) had already done a great job with the program,” said Bennett, whose father is former Whitworth head coach Blaine “Shorty” Bennett. “And so many great assistants have been a part of this program for so many years.”

Bennett made it a point to mention each assistant by name, including Wade Quesnell, Dennis Amende, Mick Zeller, Mike Blowers, Dave Herndon, Mike McKeown Sr., Mike McKeown Jr. and former Post Falls defensive coordinator Adam Shamion, who now has the same position at Whitworth.

“There’s also about 300 players in our junior tackle program, so that really helps, too” he said.

Players have embraced Bennett’s pass-happy system.

Former Post Falls quarterbacks Nate Buer and Derek Pearse thrived under Bennett, who has a 27-15 record as the Trojans’ head coach, including an 8-5 mark in IEL 5A play.

Now it’s junior Jaxon Anderson, who passed for 313 yards and three touchdowns in a 44-42 loss to defending 5A State champion Rigby two weeks ago.

Tommy Hauser, who totaled more than 1,148 receiving yards and 17 touchdowns last season, has been a constant for three seasons under Bennett.

“You always keep in the back of your mind all that college experience (Bennett) has,” Hauser said. “He’s a relaxed guy, keeps things calm and collective. Practices are focused and efficient.

“It’s amazing. He teaches how to get the ball out quick, all the presnap reads. College-level things. Our motto is, ‘Fast, physical and take care of the ball.’ ”

Under Bennett, Post Falls has defeated Lake City the past four seasons, is 4-1 against IEL rival Lewiston (the Trojans beat the Bengals 27-26 last week) and is undefeated against area 4A schools Sandpoint (5-0) and Lakeland (4-0) in that span.

Bennett is 0-4 against 5A power and top-ranked Coeur d’Alene.

That trend may change this year, according to the Trojans’ speedy receiver.

“I think this is our year,” Hauser said.

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