By Matt Nestor
A heartbreaking loss against Boylan last season left Belvidere North sitting at 2-4 and their season was almost over. Then, they didn’t lose another game until a close loss in the IHSA Class 6A state quarterfinals.
This season, the Blue Thunder are hungry for more. After a taste of a deep playoff run, they are looking to finish the job this year.
“After last year, everyone is coming back with a lot of confidence and we want to do a lot better,” returning quarterback Tony Tindle said. “We all want to get to the same goals, and we’re all in it together.t”
For new coach Ryan Zarembski, the trick will be playing for this season instead of trying to live up to last season.
“It’s not fair to this year’s team to constantly compare them to last year’s team,” he said. “A lot of our guys that are returning played a big part in that. Hopefully, that experience serves them well and they can pull the younger guys with them.”
That experience has led to some lofty expectations for Belvidere North. Not only are they looking to return to the playoffs and go even deeper, but they are also looking to compete for a conference crown.
“We would like to be closer to the Hononegahs and Boylans,” Zarembski said. “That’s where the cream of the crop is in the conference. We want to be in the same breath as them.”
To reach those goals, Zarembski said his team needs to solidify their defense. With an explosive offense last year, points were usually not a problem for the Blue Thunder. But a porous defense led to a lot of shootouts.
More than anything, however, Zarembski said he wants to see their running game on offense catch up to the passing game. He said his team lacks the depth of most teams, and a running game will help them offset those problems.
“If we can come out in the first game and run the ball a little bit, that would be a good sight for my eyes,” he said. “That’s what we’ve lacked, and if we can run the ball a little bit, that will make our lives easier. It’s going to shorten up the game, and we don’t have a lot of guys. So the more we can run, the shorter we can make the games, the better chance we have to win.”
From the Aug. 25-31, 2010 issue