No Easy Way Out: GM’s Benson returns from brutal injury

Published 8:06 pm Wednesday, November 2, 2016

GRAND MEADOW —Sometimes it can go away in a flash.

When Grand Meadow senior Blake Benson hauled in a pass in a regular season game last season, everything was going his and the Superlarks’ way. GM was on its way to its third straight Minnesota Class nine man football title and Benson was playing a huge role.

Grand Meadow’s Blake Benson, left, rushes the passer in practice in GM Wednesday. Rocky Hulne/

Grand Meadow’s Blake Benson, left, rushes the passer in practice in GM Wednesday. Rocky Hulne/

But Benson’s season came to an end an instant on that play. He sustained a hit that left him with a torn ACL, a torn MLC, a torn PCL, a torn meniscus, and a dislocated knee and kneecap. Benson had to spend the rest of that season on the sideline as the Larks made history by winning it all.

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Although he was hobbled in crutches, Benson was one of GM’s biggest supporters during its state title run.

“I was glad to see them win it again,” Benson said. “It gave some other players a chance to get in and get experience.”

After sustaining the injury, Benson had to work on rehab five days per week as he worked his way back towards getting on the field. A happy day finally came for Benson when he was cleared to play football this offseason, but he didn’t hurry his way back into the lineup. GM head coach Gary Sloan had Benson work his way back into shape and when he did play him, he started by limiting him to about 15 plays.

“Our goal was to bring him back slowly. We didn’t rush him at all,” Sloan said.

Now Benson has is getting his feet back under him as he has given the Larks a boost at defensive tackle and tight end. Benson even hauled in a touchdown in last week’s playoff win over Houston.

“It’s been a long time. It’s nice to get back out there,” Benson said. “We took it slow early on and I gradually played more. I’m a little bit slower than I was in my sophomore year though. I think I can play better on defense.”

GM senior quarterback Brenn Olson said that getting Benson back in the lineup has provided a big lift for the Superlarks, who are chasing their fourth straight state title.

“We all know how good on defense he is, but he’s also a good target for me on offense. It’s good to have him back. Even though he’s dropped a few passes that have hit him right in the hands,” Olson joked. “But he’s a good blocker and he can catch pretty much everything else.”

Sloan said that Benson’s impact may not show up on the stat sheet but that doesn’t mean he’s not giving the team a boost. Benson has made life difficult for opposing offensive lines and he’s also starting to establish himself on offense.

“Defensively I think he makes the biggest impact,” Sloan said. “Most teams we play double team him. Maybe his stats aren’t that overwhelming, but other guys have gotten better stats because he’s gotten so much attention and he’s freed up guys like Kyle Oehlke and Connor King.”

GM will take on Spring Grove 5 p.m. Friday in RCTC.