ELK MOUND — When you’re born with a name like Blaze, it’s almost preordained that you’re going to be fast.
At least that’s what Blaze Todd’s family thinks.
“Maybe his name predetermined his quickness,” Blaze’s mother Shannon Todd said with a laugh.
It’s an unusual name. In 2018 there were only 256 newborn boys named Blaze in the United States, according to the Social Security Administration.
And yet, Blaze loves it.
“I like that it stands out from the others and it almost has a ring to it,” Blaze said.
It comes from his father’s profession. Frank Todd is a firefighter in St. Paul and decided on the name after hearing it at church just weeks before Blaze was born.
Since then, Blaze has been blazing past defenders on the football field.
“He played flag football at the Eau Claire indoor sports center and when he was seven and they moved him to the nine to eleven-year-old group because every time he had his hands on the ball he would run and score,” Shannon said. “They said it was kind of unfair for the other seven year olds.”
But in high school, Blaze has had to wait his turn. During his sophomore year he sustained a fibula injury that forced him to miss most of the season and when he returned for his junior year, he had to wait behind the 2018 Dunn-St. Croix offensive player of the year, Brady Redwine.
“Last year was definitely tough knowing what I could do but having to sit back and watch,” Blaze said. “But that just made me know I really had to really show what I could do in my senior year.”
So he hit the gym extra hard in the offseason, working to get bigger and stronger for his last high school football opportunity.
And so far, it’s paid off.
He’s rushed for 756 yards in four games this season, eclipsing the 200 yard mark three times this year, and punching in 11 scores, eighth most in the state.
“It’s been pretty crazy,” Blaze said. “I guess I didn’t expect for our team to be doing what we’re doing. We worked hard all offseason and we had big expectations coming into this year.”
The Mounders offense is pretty simple. It’s predicated on the power run game, lining up either with a single back or in an off-set I-formation and running it down defenses’ throats with a star running back. It has worked for years under head coach David Lew and this year has been no different.
“We knew (Blaze) was going to be a great runner for us and just fit right into our mold,” Lew said.
Shannon said she’s always known what her son could do. This season has been exhilarating for her as she watches her son put up incredible numbers.
“I’ve had friends watching on the live stream that will text me saying they can hear me screaming,” she said.
But none of his gaudy stats would be possible without the strong play of the Mounders’ offensive line. They’ve done a spectacular job creating holes for Blaze and they’re quite pleased with their work.
“You have a sense of pride when you’re an O-lineman and you make a gap that he can run through,” junior Alex Johnson said. “It’s pretty amazing what he can do out there.”
Blaze and the Mounders will have another tough test on Friday when they head to Durand to take on the 2-2 Panthers.