BELVIDERE, Ill (WTVO/WQRF)– Belvidere High School’s football Hall of Fame grew by three more members last weekend. One of the inductees was 86-year old Ken Nettleton. If there is any one man alive today who exudes Buc Pride, it is Nettleton.

“Cheer, cheer for old Belvidere. Ring out the echoes cheering her name.” Nettleton can often be heard singing Belvidere’s fight song.

Nettleton graduated from Belvidere High School in 1956. His love for his alma mater has only grown over the years.

“I always pulled for the Bucs, all my years. Always will to my dying days.”

Nettleton played defensive end for the Bucs. He attended the old Belvidere High School which is now a senior living complex on Pearl Street. Funderberg Stadium didn’t exist at that time. Back then the football games were played at Legion Field. That is now the site of Doty Park.

“It’s a city park, but to me it’s Legion Field,” said Nettleton. “It’s the Belvidere High School football field. It always will be.”

Nettleton got to address the current Belvidere football team before it’s game last Saturday afternoon against Freeport.

“I tell you every time I hear the fight song, Belvidere fight song, hell, I figure I can still lick the world.”

“You may not realize it as much now, but when you graduate from Belvidere High School, you’re going to have pride. You’re going to carry that pride with you all through your life, and that’s one thing nobody can ever take away from you.”

Nettleton has led quite a life. After he graduated from high school, he spent four years in the Army. Three of those years he drove a tank up and down the East-West border of Germany. He later worked 26 years as a Boone County Sheriff’s deputy. He was one of the first responders in 1967 the day the infamous Belvidere tornado devastated the community.

Nettleton still has his Bucs letterman sweater. He wore it last Saturday while watching the Bucs play the Pretzels.

“That’s precious stuff,” said Nettleton of his sweater. “I’m so proud of it.”

Nettleton’s favorite memory from his playing days was his final game as a Buc, the last game of his senior year when the Bucs upset DeKalb.

“Our record was 4-3. DeKalb was ranked one of the top teams in the state at 7-0. Knowing it was our last game and with Buc pride we went in there and we gave them one heck of a game.”

The Bucs won 16-13 on a field goal that was kicked with five minutes left in the game.

“That topped off all my years of playing football.”

Last Saturday, Nettleton was back at Belvidere’s Funderburg Stadium, being inducted into the Bucs Football Hall of Fame.

“Ladies and gentlemen, from 66 years ago, once a Buc always a Buc, Mr. Kenneth E. Nettleton!” announced the public address announcer to a big round of cheers, to which Nettleton responded with a shout of “Go Bucs!” and a pump of his fist in the air.

Nettleton will never forget the phone call he got from current head football coach Tony Ambrogio informing him that he had been selected for the hall of fame.

“He said, ‘Ken, I want you to know that your name was submitted and approved, and you’re going to be inducted (choked up), inducted into the Belvidere High School Football Hall of Fame.’ That day too I started in (wiping his tears)….yea, it means so much.”

At the conclusion of my interview with Nettleton I had him sing the Belvidere fight song one more time. “Old Belvidere will win overall. As our sons go marching onward to victory. Go Bucs!”