If there’s one thing about Blaine Riederich, he hates to miss a high school football game. His father, Brodie, was the same way during his playing days in the mid-1990s. Brodie put off knee surgery during his senior year to keep playing.
Blaine is a lot like his father, he’s tough, he plays in the backfield, and he wears the same No. 40 jersey number. The only difference is Blaine plays for Marina, whereas Brodie played at Edison.
Despite tearing a ligament in his knee in 1995, Brodie only missed one game that season. Blaine has sat out one game in his senior year, and he hopes that will be his lone one.
Blaine Riederich played last week for the first time since banging up his shoulder against rival Westminster on Sept. 8, and he looked better than ever at running back. Riederich turned in his best performance of his career, rushing 14 times for 154 yards and three touchdowns and catching three passes for 101 yards and two touchdowns.
Riederich’s five-touchdown effort led Marina to a 54-21 rout of Whittier Christian at Whittier College, giving it momentum going into Sunset League play.
For the second straight year, the Vikings went 3-2 during nonleague action. With a healthy Riederich, things are looking promising for Marina.
This year, Riederich believes the Vikings will win more in league than they did a year ago, when they went 1-4.
“I think teams are actually pretty scared to play us this year,” Riederich said.
On Friday, Riederich and Marina face the only team they beat in league last year. The Vikings open league with Fountain Valley at Huntington Beach High at 7 p.m.
The last time these two programs met was in last year’s regular-season finale, and Marina snapped its 60-game losing streak in league and the Barons finished winless in the Sunset League for the first time. Riederich totaled 115 yards and three touchdowns in the Vikings’ 35-7 win.
The Vikings and Barons enter this year’s contest playing a lot better, as Marina is ranked No. 6 in the CIF Southern Section Division 12 poll and the Barons (4-1) are No. 10 in Division 6.
“They’ve done pretty well this preseason,” Marina coach Jeff Turley said of the Barons, who have turned things around since going 1-9 last season. “It’s not going to be an easy task, but I think if [our] offense is clicking, it’s pretty hard to stop it. There are a lot of weapons on that field.”
The most dangerous player for Marina last week was Riederich. Turley unleashed him, even it that meant doing so against his great nephew Quinn Commans’ Whittier Christian team.
Turley’s family showed up to watch him coach and Commans play quarterback. Commans throws touchdowns in bunches, going into last week’s game having passed for 76 touchdowns in three years.
Riederich was the one who was the scoring machine. He scored on touchdown runs of 43, 17 and four yards, and on touchdown catches of 41 and 37 yards.
He wasn’t the only Riederich involved in the game. Blaine’s dad is in his first year as Marina’s defensive coordinator, and his unit sacked Commans eight times.
Even though family was involved, it didn’t matter to Turley. He didn’t ask Brodie to take it easy on Commans. Brodie’s son also made three tackles as a safety.
“It was fun. You get to [be at] the head of the table at Thanksgiving this year,” Turley said of him winning the family affair. “Our family is really competitive, always has been. We rib each other and give each other a hard time about it. But [Commans] did an outstanding job [completing 28 of 51 passes for 362 yards and three touchdowns]. They just ran into a buzzsaw with us.”
Marina bounced back from a two-game skid. The Vikings lost to two quality opponents, losing to Westminster 34-20 and Santa Ana 28-21. Westminster, No. 10 in Division 11, and Santa Ana, No. 5 in Division 12, each entered this week 4-1.
If not for losing Riederich, Brandon Savea, a running back and safety, center Daniel Escamilla and defensive end John Skocilic to injuries, Turley said Marina could be 5-0. Turley believes this might be the year the Vikings make the CIF Southern Section playoffs for the first time in 16 years.
The last time the Vikings qualified for the postseason was in 2001. That same season Turley began the first of his 13 years as the defensive coordinator at Long Beach Poly.
With this being Marina’s final year in the Sunset League, the school is heading to the new eight-team Golden West Conference next year, Turley said the team has to win three of its five games in league to earn an at-large entry into the Division 12 playoffs. As for which of those five games are winnable, Riederich said, “All of them.”
Marina, in its 54th season in the Sunset League, hasn’t enjoyed much success in the league. It has finished atop the league three times, first in 1983, then in ‘85 and ’86. The only time the Vikings went 5-0 in league was 31 years ago, finishing a game ahead of Edison.
Edison, which has won the Sunset League 20 times, is the favorite to finish first this year.
Riederich’s mother, Jennifer, also went to Edison like Brodie.
Brodie was a standout fullback and defensive end at Edison for then-coach Dave White. After helping the Chargers advance to the Division I playoffs in 1995, Brodie earned a spot in the 37th edition of the Orange County High School All-Star Football Game in the summer of 1996.
Despite their high school experiences at Edison, Brodie said he and Jennifer let their oldest kid choose his high school. It was an easy choice for Riederich.
“I live right across the street from Marina,” Riederich said. “I didn’t want to go to some like big-name school and just be like another player out there. I wanted to go with my friends and be able to play all four years.”
The youngest Riederich in the family is Brantt, and he’s following in his brother Blaine’s footsteps.
Brantt is a freshman running back and linebacker at Marina, and Turley almost brought him up to varsity because of injuries. Turley said he could see the Vikings calling Brantt up during league, but Brantt won’t be able to wear No. 40 as he does on the freshman team.
Brantt knows the number belongs to his older brother.
“I wore it because my dad was No. 40,” Blaine said. “My brother just kind of took it on as well and wore it because of me and my dad.”
Brodie said it’s an honor to see his sons wearing his old number and to be able to coach them in high school.
For Brodie, seeing his oldest son take three weeks off to recover from his shoulder injury also turned out for the better. In his first game back, Blaine totaled 255 yards, almost matching his production from the first three games. His five touchdowns were one more than he recorded in the first three games.
“Jeff made the decision. He just said, ‘It’s not worth it right now. I want to make sure he’s 100 percent,’” Brodie said. “I don’t know how sure [Blaine] was about not getting to play [against Santa Ana on Sept. 15, and then the team had a bye the following week]. He didn’t want to miss a game. The coach said there was more to the season than just this preseason game. It was obviously, with Jeff’s experience, the better decision.”
Born: Oct. 27, 1999
Hometown: Huntington Beach
Height: 5 feet 9
Weight: 185 pounds
Coach: Jeff Turley
Favorite food: Pizza
Favorite movie: “Saving Private Ryan”
Favorite athletic moment: “Being on varsity for four years and playing for [Marina coach Jeff] Turley.”
Week in review: Riederich rushed 14 times for 154 yards and three touchdowns, and caught three passes for 101 yards and two touchdowns, leading Marina to a 54-21 win against Whittier Christian at Whittier College last week.