Football in the mural city will look a little different in 2013. When Belvidere and Belvidere North square off in the season opener on Friday, it'll be a contest between two teams with new head coaches. For the Blue Thunder, Jeff Beck takes over, after spending a year as the team's offensive line coach. He says he's learned a lot in these first couple weeks.
"You kind of find out what you're made of pretty early and often," Beck said. "You have to be the first one here and the last one to leave. That's something I always take pride in, working very hard, and it's the kind of things that we expect from our kids, so I try to do it as well."
North is coming off a season in which it won just 2 games, but the players say coach Beck is putting in the time to turn things around this year.
"He definitely puts a lot of effort into game planning, and I think he's got us in the right position to win some games," Belvidere North quarterback Jace Bankford said. "He's here seven days a week, he's always here planning for our games. So I think with what he does and all the effort he puts in, we could win some games."
At Belvidere, Chuck Leonard gets his first crack at a head coaching job. He coached under his father, Chuck, at Christian Life for 14 seasons, and he says the main thing he learned from his dad is how to treat the young men on the field.
"Football is a huge part of life when you're a high school football player," Leonard said. "Moreso, it's building those relationships with the kids, and teaching them the lessons that they're going to carry with them for the rest of their life."
His players have responded, crediting coach Leonard with bringing a fresh approach to Belvidere.
"He wants everything done right, not only on the field but off the field as well, and in the meeting room when we talk," Belvidere running back Maurice Jackson said. "He's unique. He's different from the other coaches that we've had."
On Friday, these new-look teams will go head to head, giving either coach Beck or coach Leonard their first career win.
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