A strong senior class is a terrific foundation for a successful football season. The Belvidere North Blue Thunder have that.
Take a good look at Belvidere North’s players. There’s a good chance many of the guys you see are seniors. There are 33 of them this year.
“This is the highest number of seniors we’ve had,” said North coach Jeff Beck. “These kids have really stuck it out through four years and they’ve seen some success and they’re a great group of kids.”
“We have a lot of guys that are willing to work,” said North senior tight end and linebacker Caden Brannan. “Right now we’re getting great looks from our scout team and everybody is making everybody better right now.”
The Blue Thunder are coming off another playoff season, their fifth in six years. They’ll run their flexbone option again trying to keep the chains moving and control the football, but they don’t have that big, power-back in the backfield this time.
“We’re lacking that guy you would look at like a Mason Stringini or a Cruz Garza, a guy that’s 215 pounds and has got speed,” said Beck. “Last year it was Clay Davis.”
What they do have though is the fastest student-athlete in Belvidere North history. Senior running back Elliot Powers set a school record in the 100 meters in track this past spring.
“He’s definitely a big-time playmaker for us,” said Beck.
The offense will be in the steady hands of senior Holden Paddock. He’s back for his second season as the starting quarterback. Beck likes the maturity Paddock has and his grasp of the game.
“You’ll see him walking up to the line and he’s telling linemen what to do. He’s turning around, he’s telling running backs what to do, and he’s getting people lined up. And we’re giving him a lot of freedom at the line to look at what the defense is doing to get us into the best play.”
Senior Tight End Matt Bucher is another key piece on the offense. Three-year starter Trevor Dawson and Ramiro Verastegui return on the line. Christian Moloz also returns up front.
“We all know our responsibilities and we are really close as a team, so I feel like we can handle anyone,” said Verastegui.
Setting the tone on defense will be returning linebackers Zach Matzl and Caden Brannan along with Dawson one the line and Powers at cornerback.