By Matt Nestor
The Belvidere Bucs are used to being at the top of the NIC-10 conference. Last year, that was not the case.
Despite injuries hurting an already young team last year, Belvidere was able to make its way into the playoffs. But when matched up with the top teams in the conference, there was a significant talent gap.
But things may be turning for Belvidere. Then-freshman quarterback Troy Vandenbroek and sophomore running backs Marcus Gooden and Kyle Harris all got significant playing time and made their mark in the conference, which should give them confidence coming into this season.
“We have a lot of guys that are still young for the conference, that competed and helped get us to the playoffs and got playoff experience,” Head Coach Matt Weckler said. “We’re coming in with guys who have experience at the varsity level playing games rather than juniors that are coming in to start and have never played a high school game.”
One thing the Bucs are trying to improve more than anything is their defense. Weckler said they feel with their young backfield, they have the ability to score. But he is not sure if they can simply outscore other teams.
“We really stress defense this year,” Weckler said. “We’ve given up a lot of points the last few years. We don’t have the overall weapons like Harlem, with all their speed, or Boylan with their athletic ability. We think we have to stop them, get a break and get a score here or there and win some 14-7 games or 21-14 games, rather than 35-21 games.”
Belvidere certainly looks to have the size and athletic ability to work their way back to the top of the conference. They have talent across the board, and if they lack anything, it may only be the ability to back up some of that talent.
“Our weakness could be our lack of depth on the offensive and defensive line,” Weckler said. “We’re confident in the kids that we have, but a school our size in our conference, if we get some people hurt early and can’t come back, then we’ll be a little bit behind the eight ball. But with the guys we have right now, I think we can compete.”
From the Aug. 25-31, 2010 issue