By Bob Kopp

BDR Sports Correspondent

BELVIDERE – Call me crazy, not an uncommon theme among Boone County residents and denominational jingoists, but I think there were hints of better days for the Bucs in their grossly lopsided loss to the Knights 43-18.

Heavy pre-season favorites for a conference title with more D1 prospects than Bears will have in the Pro Bowl, Auburn played like a team still smarting from last week’s 40-32 loss to a North team that I still think will, at minimum, share another NIC-10 championship with the Knights, Huskies, or Indians.  Unless lightning strikes like it did last night, I don’t see either Harlem or Hononegah going undefeated in what is starting to look like a wild ride to the crown in the NIC-10.

When Urban Meyer took the reins at OSU, he knew he would have to bring SEC speed to the Big Ten if they were going to compete for national titles.

He did that and they are.  With Head Coach Dan Appino turning around Auburn football to rival the excellence of their hoopsters as quickly as Curt Tobin turned North into a perennial powerhouse with current Head Coach Jeff Beck building upon that rock solid foundation, the Knights are built on speed, athleticism, and a thirst for victory that reminds me of those glory days at junior tackle feeder programs Booker and Northwest.

After the Bucs stopped Auburn cold on their first three plays of the evening only to shoot themselves in the game plan with two rather inane penalties, it was like a pin burst the balloon of enthusiasm and, apart from a few bursts by the Bucs, the Knights ran away with the game.

While senior Justin Robles, a tenaciously leading tackler throughout the evening, shut down heavily recruited wide-out Juwauane Parchman most of the night until a late strike when the game was already in the bag for Auburn, the Knights’ speed overwhelmed the Bucs defense with Vontez Fricks-Williams running for 153 yards and three TDs.

Daqwuan Bell added another 100 yards that included a 20 yard dazzling scamper to put Auburn ahead and for the night after the Bucs’ ill-fated penalties on their first drive.

Legendary Belvidere junior tackle football coach Chuck Pete often says, “What goes around comes around.”

With many on the roster having played for Coach Pete as baby Bucs, BHS is hoping he is right; and with a brilliant coaching staff led by Head Coach Chuck Leonard, who turned heads with the Bucs strong push to the playoffs last year, and a senior class not used to losing for over a decade, there are hints of better days.

Junior Austin Revolinski continues to move to the top of the class among conference QBs and was at it again against the Knights with a seven yard scoring strike to Robles to draw the Bucs within 8 points in the second quarter along with a solid run in the rugged red zone to close out the half with the Knights ahead 22-12.

Senior Eric Munoz, who is more solid than ever on defense and about to explode into the record books with the ball, leads a defense of names that will become more and more familiar in this year’s push to the playoffs.

Senior Brett White, another obvious choice for all-conference status who is at the top of all tacklers every week, took over under center for Revolinski at the end of the game and led the Bucs to their final score when he ran it in himself from two yards.

While no one is going to replace the senior captain leadership of all-conference linebacker Tyler Bruneau, lost for the season due to injury, junior Danny Martin gets better and better every week under the mentorship of Bruneau and Coach Leonard’s staff.

Now that last year’s conference leader in receptions senior Bryar Gunn is back in action for the meat of the season, showing hints of greater things to come as last year’s unquestionably top possession receiver in the NIC-10, and expected return of senior wide-out Dayquan Coleman along with an offensive line that improves weekly, better days should be ahead for a team with much more talent and better coaching than their current record suggests.

Undefeated Hononegah with several D1 prospects of their own comes to town next Friday at 7:15 p.m.

The Bucs look primed to put hints of better days into the rearview mirror with another push to the playoffs.

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