By Gene McGivern, Sports Information Director

If Florida State quarterback Chris Wienke is this season’s “dad” of college football, St. Thomas senior linebacker Blane Tetreault is like a revered older brother.

Wienke, age 27, and Tetreault (pronounced TAY-tro), 26, have much in common, besides their age, shrinking hairlines and exceptional football ability:

  • Both played on local high school powers a decade ago. Wienke led Cretin-Derham Hall to Minnesota Class AA state runner-up honors as a junior (1988) and a year later earned a football scholarship to Florida State. Tetreault helped the Fridley Tigers win the state Class A championship as a senior (1990) as a linebacker-running back and earned a scholarship to Northern Illinois.
  • Both played for Coach Mal Scanlan — Wienke at Cretin, and Tetreault here in his first season for the Tommies.
  • Both took unusual paths to college football. Wienke had an up-and-down career in minor-league baseball before coming back to the spotlight of major-college football. Tetreault had one year of Division I football at Northern Illinois, a year of work, a year as a beach bum in California, a career in the U.S. Marines Corps, and some time in technical college and in the workforce before returning to college football at age 23.

“My first college football experience as a scholarship player wasn’t everything I thought it would be,” Tetreault said. “I moved home and worked at an electronics store and took some classes at North Hennepin Community College. Then I moved to Long Beach, Calif., with a friend at the end of 1993 and lived the good life. I finally ran out of money, and I figured I had better do something more productive.

“I joined the Marine Corps and survived the traditional boot camp in San Diego. I’ve served in the Marine Reserves ever since, and traveled all over the country and to Thailand. There’s a lot of similarities with football — the discipline, the camaraderie and team spirit.”

Tetreault eventually returned to Minnesota and worked a couple years as an architectural drafter while attending Minneapolis Drafting School part time. But he missed playing football, and wanted a four-year degree to round out his resume.

Shaking off some rust, Tetreault made an immediate impact for the Tommies in his first season back in the fall of 1997, with 45 tackles, an interception and two fumble recoveries. Last season, he was totally back in sync, earning All-MIAC honors and all-region mention with a team-best 92 tackles, three interceptions and a fumble recovery. His interception in the end zone helped quell an Augsburg rally, and the Tommies eventually won in overtime, 29-28. In his two seasons, the Tommies are 14-4 in MIAC games and 15-5 overall.

“Things have turned out really well for me at St. Thomas,” Tetreault said. “I’m glad I came here. When I see any friends from high school and tell them what I’m doing, they all tell me I’m lucky and that they wish they were still out here.”

The business major has a 3.10 GPA and will graduate in May. He hopes to work in sports management, or perhaps in the music industry as a promoter.

His military background — he’s now in his sixth year in the Marine Reserves — kept him in prime physical shape for his return. The hardest part of his transition might have been being around so many teenagers in a locker room again.

“A lot of these guys were in grade school the last time I played football at Fridley and Northern Illinois,” Tetreault said. “But I can still keep up with them. Besides, I don’t think I’ve grown up totally yet myself.”

Tetreault has earned the respect of his teammates — on and off the field. He’s one of five players voted captain — joining quarterback Greg Kaiser, safety Steve Nolander, fullback Mike Westland and center John Stewart — on a team blessed with 23 seniors.

UST coach Don Roney especially likes Tetreault’s enthusiasm as a 26-year-old senior.

“Blane doesn’t coast out there,” Roney said. “He goes hard every snap. He’s fun to watch. He’s extremely quick and fast for a linebacker, and because of that speed, when he hits you, you know you were hit.”

Tetreault has one more thing in common with Wienke — championship aspirations for 1999.

“We’d like to win the conference and make the NCAA playoffs,” Tetreault said. “Every year we seem to have one poor game that hurts us. If we stay healthy, with the leadership we have maybe this is the year we go over the top.”

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