Belvidere North Preview

Belvidere, Illinois-Belvidere North missed out on the playoffs the last three years, and the Blue Thunder won only two games last season, but this year they might be ready to turn the corner.

The Blue Thunder were a very young team last year playing several sophomores in key roles. Sophomores who had gone undefeated as freshmen. Now they're hoping to recapture that winning form.

"Our team is a really competitive team. We're always going at each other especially in practice," says quarterback Jace Bankord. "We all want to get better."

Bankord leads his year's junior class. He passed for more than 1400 yards last season, the second best total in the conference. Running back Scot Hornick and receiver Kevin Tevebaugh are also part of that junior group. Add in senior Kyle Hartfiel at receiver and the Blue Thunder have some weapons.

"I do see it (the offense) being a little open because of the fact we have so many weapons. We will use all of them," says Hartfiel.

"We're going to run and pass," says Bankord. "You can't key on one thing. We'll have a lot of receivers. We'll be able to spread the ball around."

New head coach Jeff Beck will guide the Blue Thunder. He had been North's offensive line coach last year.

"We want our kids to play disciplined, fundamental, clean football," says Beck. "That's something I think we lacked a little last year, and that contributed to our record."

"We're looking to change some things around," says Beck. "We have pretty good skill depth on both sides of the ball, so we're going to find a way to get those kids on the field."

The Blue Thunder aren't overly big, but an off-season speed program has made that area a strength.

"A lot of kids got faster," says Beck.

The Blue Thunder have 16 starters back total.

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