MONROE — Blake Springer grew up dreaming of playing quarterback for the Monroe High School football team.
As a team ball boy and the son of a former assistant coach, Springer spent many childhood Friday nights watching from the sidelines and envisioning himself hurling spirals all over the field for the Bearcats.
That dream is now a reality.
Springer enters this fall as Monroe’s starting quarterback and a talented three-star junior recruit, with the keys to what could be one of the most high-octane offenses in the area.
“It’s awesome,” Springer said. “It was always my dream. I would always look up to those guys that played quarterback for those (past Monroe) teams, and I just always wanted to be in that position. And now that I’m here, it’s a really cool thing.”
The Bearcats are sure glad to have him leading the way.
With Springer spearheading a fast-paced spread attack that’s stocked with playmaking potential, Wesco 3A South favorite Monroe enters this fall with high expectations.
“We definitely have something special this season,” senior receiver Kody Edelbrock said.
It all starts with the strong-armed 6-foot-2 Springer, who’s regarded as one of the state’s top high school quarterbacks. He’s ranked as the No. 3 junior quarterback recruit in the state and the No. 62 junior quarterback recruit in the nation, according to 247Sports.
“He’s got the best arm we’ve ever seen around here (at Monroe),” said third-year Bearcats head coach Scott Darrow, who has been coaching in the program for the past 17 seasons. “We’ve had some good ones come through here. But he’s got the biggest arm, for sure.”
Darrow even compared Springer’s arm strength to that of Snohomish County legend Jacob Eason, back when the current NFL quarterback was a star at Lake Stevens.
“He reminds me of Jacob Eason a little bit,” Darrow said. “Similar kind of arm. When he dials in his technique and he really gets his feet planted, he’s pretty special. … He can make any throw on the field.”
As a sophomore last year, Springer completed 62.7% of his passes for 1,750 yards, 18 touchdowns and eight interceptions while splitting the starting quarterback duties with then-senior Evan Leggett.
Springer had a big performance in a narrow Week 5 loss to Edmonds-Woodway, finishing 27-of-37 passing for 358 yards, four TDs and one interception.
And then there was his dramatic Week 8 comeback against Snohomish, which ultimately won him the starting job.
The dual-threat Leggett started that game at quarterback, but was forced to fill in at wide receiver due to an injury. Springer entered late in the first half, with the Bearcats facing a steep 19-0 deficit.
Springer led Monroe all the way back, making big throw after big throw to guide the Bearcats to a thrilling 42-40 overtime victory that gave them a three-way share of the Wesco 3A South title.
Springer threw a game-tying 7-yard TD pass with 33 seconds left in regulation. He tossed a go-ahead 22-yard TD pass in overtime. And he followed that with a successful 2-point conversion pass that ultimately proved to be the difference.
Springer, who shook off a pair of interceptions in the game, finished 20-of-31 passing for 261 yards and three TDs in just a little more than a half of action.
“After that happened, he had the keys to the car,” Darrow said. “It’s been his offense, his team, ever since.”
Springer certainly has plenty of natural talent, but his development at quarterback also stems from years of hard work. He’s played the position since age 6 and grew up training with his father, who was a former offensive coordinator at Monroe.
“Getting my basics down and having somebody there to help me learn how to read defense and know where to put the ball, that just really helped me over the years,” Springer said.
More recently, Springer has worked with quarterback trainer Lavelle Durant, who has instructed numerous top passers across the Puget Sound region. This offseason, Springer also traveled around the country to compete in 7-on-7 tournaments with the Monroe-based Elite Training Academy team. In addition, he held frequent throwing sessions with his Bearcats teammates.
And as Darrow described, Springer matches his on-field work with relentless film study.
“He’s in my classroom every day — watching film, asking questions — all year round,” Darrow said. “He’s just a football junkie. He just wants to be great.”
Springer’s dedication to the X’s and O’s is particularly important in Monroe’s pass-heavy, no-huddle attack.
“Our passing game is fairly sophisticated,” Darrow said. “He’s making a lot of pre-snap reads and post-snap reads. He’s highly intelligent.
“He makes us go, no doubt.”
But for the Bearcats, the excitement over their offense goes beyond just Springer. He’s surrounded by potential playmaking weapons, both at receiver and running back.
“We have some of the best athletes in the area,” Springer said. “So I think we could do some really special things.”
Edelbrock, who moved from running back to slot receiver this year, is expected to be one of Springer’s top targets. The versatile senior totaled 595 yards rushing, 225 yards receiving and 10 offensive TDs last season.
“He’s pretty special,” Darrow said. “He’s the jack of all trades for us. I think he’s probably our most dynamic athlete.”
At the other slot position is sophomore receiver Mason Davis, who Darrow coined as “probably the fastest kid in our school.” And on the outside are a pair of returning senior wideouts in Eli Miller and Trent Bublitz.
That group of receivers is tasked with replacing standout pass catchers Cole Pruett and Wahi Emmsley from last season. Both are now on college football teams, with Pruett at Washington State University and Emmsley at Central Washington University.
“Those guys were great players for us,” Darrow said. “But I think the guys we have here this year are just as good, honestly.”
Speedy sophomore Beau Pruett, the younger brother of Cole Pruett, takes over the starting running back role. He’ll be complemented in the backfield by junior Gavin Ranz.
“Oh my goodness, Beau (is) just dynamite,” Darrow said. “He’s so fast and just so good in the open field. And Gavin is really good too.”
Along the offensive line, there are a pair of massive all-league selections to replace in Griffin Montana and Connor Owens. But the Bearcats return a first-team all-leaguer and three-year starting center in 6-foot-1, 260-pound senior Rylan Hampton, along with 6-foot-3, 280-pound senior right tackle Boyd Aney. And their other three starting linemen also got experience last year due to injuries.
“I think (we have) a pretty solid offensive line,” Darrow said. “… We feel good about ‘em.”
With an elite quarterback and talent abound at the skill positions, Monroe is eyeing a repeat Wesco 3A South title and a state playoff run. The Bearcats came one win short of state last year, falling 28-14 to Lakes in the Class 3A Week 10 winner-to-state round.
“I think we’re ready for it,” Springer said of reaching the state playoffs. “It’s been the talk around our team since that Lakes game last year. We were that close. … We’re all ready to take it a step further.”