North Football Finishes 7-3 And Second In Conference


Caden Brannan, Reporter

Belvidere North football fans finally got a glimpse of what the 2019-20 season will look like after the intersquad scrimmage. North gave their fans plenty to be excited about after they showcased their skills in all phases of the game. 

“I can’t wait to get out there on the field and start the season with the boys. We’ve been putting in a lot of work throughout the summer and I can’t to get out there,” said Matt Bucher(‘20).

After a long offseason, week one came around for North as they opened up the season with an away game against East. North’s defense knew they had their hands full with the returning Nic-10 leading rusher, Tavion Lake. But North’s defense had no problem as they got off the field on the first drive after a stop on fourth and one. 

“We knew we had to be playing our best on defense with a guy like Lake in the backfield,” said Zach Matzl(‘20).

And with the short field North’s offense, led by returning starter Holden Paddock(‘20), punched the ball into the endzone to take early 7-0 lead. And throughout the first half it was more of the same, defensive stops and short fields for the offense. And with the longest field of the night, North made quick work of it as Elliot Powers(‘20) took the ball to the house for a 54 yard touchdown on the first play of the drive. This capped off a great first half for North. They went into halftime up 35-0 and they were receiving the ball to start the second half. And North’s offense quickly put the ball in the endzone to make the game 42-0. Their rushing attack was led by Stanley Reyes(‘20), who had 91 yards on 13 carries, and Elliot Powers who had 81 yards on three carries. With the big lead North was able to rotate through their players and get other players in. Backup quarterback, Jake Tapia(‘21), was able to lead North’s offense for another great drive, and he capped off the drive with a rushing touchdown of his own. After East scored twice in the fourth quarter, the score ended up 50-14.

After a dominating first game, North knew they would be tested in week two when they hosted Boylan. Boylan came into the game ranked eighth in the state for class 5A, North knew they would have to play a near perfect game to beat them, and North nearly did that. The first quarter was a battle as both teams controlled the game defensively. North was able to get a drive down near the redzone, but the drive abruptly stopped as Boylan got an interception at the four yard line. That play shifted the momentum and North’s defense began to slip up, Boylan broke out for a 30 yard gain on the first play of the drive. And after multiple big runs, Boylan capped off the 96 yard drive with a 12 yard touchdown pass. But after that score, North’s defense got back to dominating the game. North was unable to get much else going on offense in the remainder of the first half and went into halftime down 7-0. The second half was more of the same as both defenses were controlling the game. But North’s offense finally got some momentum after a 29 yard reception by Miles Davis(‘21) and another 23 yard run by Davis. The drive ended in seven points after Holden Paddock cut back for a 16 yard touchdown. The game was tied up 7-7 until Boylan completed a 51 yard pass for a touchdown to take the lead 13-7 with seven minutes left in the game. North was unable to get one last score and they fell just short as they lost 13-7. 

North was looking to make a bounce back game against Jefferson. North had a slow start to the game as they gave up an early score and failed to convert the two point conversion on their first score. It was 6-6 midway through the first quarter, but then North broke the game open and went into halftime up 47-6. North went through the whole second half without playing their starters on either side of the ball. North ended up outscoring Jefferson 14-8 in the second half and won 61-14. Elliot Powers was North’s leading rusher with 123 yards on eight carries, he also had four tackles and three pass breakups. 

North travelled across town to Belvidere to try and add another win to their resume. In the first half nothing went according to plan, North only had two offensive plays in the first quarter after a muffed punt and a fumble on offense. But North’s defense was able to stand strong and keep Belvidere out of the endzone. The second quarter was more of the same, North was able to finally get 13 plays off on offense but they stalled out because of penalties. Luckily the defense was able to keep the offense in the game by keeping the shut out, they went into halftime tied 0-0. They’re offense got back on track in the second half as they went down the field and scored on the first drive of the half. And North’s Tyron Brakes(‘21) set up the offense after taking an interception all the way down to the one yard line. Stanley Reyes was able to punch it in and put North up 14-0. And North proceeded to dominate in the second half as they won 35-0. Holden Paddock completed two passing touchdowns; one to Matt Bucher and another one to Elliot Powers. Powers ended up with 92 rushing yards on five carries and Stanley Reyes ended with 90 rushing yards on 12 rushes.

North was looking to keep their momentum rolling as they hosted Auburn. North started off very strong as they forced a three and out on their first defensive drive and then quickly turned around and scored to go up 7-0. North continued to dominate on defense as they held Auburn to -26 rushing yards on the game. They also held the shut out until six minutes left in the game and Auburn scored on a 70 yard passing touchdown.

Zach Matzl said, “We don’t have that one stand out player this year, but we do have a lot of solid players that are smart and know what they are doing.”

 And the offense was able to capitalize on the defensive stops as Holden Paddock and Stanley Reyes each rushed for two touchdowns. Paddock also added 58 rushing yards, while Reyes gained 105 yards on the ground. North’s offense finished with 225 total rushing yards on 53 carries, but they were unable to complete a pass as they went 0-6 passing. North moved to 4-1 on the season as they beat Auburn 28-8. 

North hosted Hononegah week six as they tried to beat Hono for only the second time in school history. North started to click on all cylinders as they went into halftime tied 7-7. And they continued to dominate in the second half and walked away with a 28-14 victory. One of the biggest factors for North’s offensive success was Tyron Brakes(‘21), who rushed for 111 yards after he had limited carries through the first five games. With this win, North moved to 5-1 and clinched a playoff birth.

North looked to keep their momentum rolling as they travelled to Harlem to knock off the projected conference champions. North was able to keep Harlem’s explosive offense in check in the first half as they got off the field and kept the shutout through halftime. North’s offense was able to get into field goal range and they took the 3-0 lead at halftime. The second half was more of the same as the defense kept North in control. And an interception from Carson Blatchford(‘20) set up North’s only score, they punched it in at the goal line to make it a 9-0 lead. During the fourth quarter, Harlem started to get their offense rolling and they tied the game up 9-9. And North’s defense had to get a stop with three minutes left in the game, but they were unable to keep Harlem out of the endzone. North fell to 5-2 in conference with a 15-9 loss in week seven.

North traveled to Guilford as they looked to get their sixth win of the season. North dominated the whole game as they went into halftime up 21-0. And the second half was more of the same as North kept the shutout and won the game 35-0. North’s second string defense held strong and got a goal line stop to secure the shutout late in the fourth quarter.

As the postseason neared, North hosted Freeport for the final game of the regular season. It was expected to be a battle because Freeport was fighting for their fifth win to become playoff eligible and North was fighting for a share of second place in the conference and a win on their senior night. North’s defense dominated the first half, only allowing 15 yards in the first half. Jake Tapia anchored down the defense with two interceptions, one that stopped a Freeport drive before halftime. And North’s offense also got rolling as they had 206 total yards in the first half, which included a 70 yard passing touchdown from Holden Paddock to Matt Bucher. North continued to dominate in all three phases of the game, the only let up was with about six minutes left in the game, when North gave up three consecutive scores. The final score, 34-23,  was closer than the game actually was. 

North was looking to make a run in the playoffs, and week one of the postseason was a home game against Lake Forest. North knew that they were going to have their hands full with Lake Forest because they had players going to Notre Dame and South Carolina, and another with offers from Wisconsin. North started the game off strong as they scored on the opening drive after a nearly eight minute drive. Then they forced a three and out on the next drive to get the ball back, unfortunately they had to punt. But after a Lake Forest player muffed the punt, North recovered it with great field position and eventually scored on that drive as well. After that there wasn’t much going well for the North offense. They were able to move the ball to end the first half, but they weren’t able to sustain any drives. But North’s defense was able to hold Lake Forest to only 30 total yards in the first half, which allowed North to go into halftime up 14-0. The second half was when things started to go down hill for North in all three phases of the game. Between an unusually bad showing from the defense and the offense, North found themselves in very bad situations after two mistakes on punt ended up costing them major yards. The combination of these mistakes from all phases of the game led to a 14-14 tie in the fourth quarter. North still had a chance to win the game even with all of the mistakes, but Lake Forest made multiple big plays in the final minutes to eventually take the 21-14 lead. North was unable to make anything happen in the final drive and ended up falling short 21-14.

Even though the season ended earlier than everyone would’ve liked, North still had a great year. They finished 7-3 overall and tied for second in the conference. They had one of the best offenses since going to triple option, averaging 30.1 points per game. And they set a school record for the least amount of points allowed, averaging 12.2 points per game, the previous record was 18.2. North outscored opponents a combined 301-122 through the season. The combination of a dominant offense and defense allowed North to have a very successful season.