By Bob Balgemann


BOONE COUNTY – Belvidere and Belvidere North High School football teams are on the road this weekend in the first round of the state football playoffs.

The 11th-seeded Bucs (6-3) travel to Woodstock to meet the sixth seed, Marian Central (7-2), at 1 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 31. The ninth-seeded Blue Thunder (6-3) travel a bit further, to Maple Park, where they will take on No. 8 Kaneland (6-3) at 7 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 31.

Marian Central and Belvidere met in the first round of the 2011-2012 playoffs, with Central winning, 42-6. North and Kaneland have not played before.

North Boone was 4-2 earlier in the season but finished 4-5, unable to defeat any of its final three opponents for the needed fifth win to qualify for the postseason.

The winner of Belvidere’s game will play again the following weekend against whoever prevails in the outing between the 14th seed, Vernon Hills (6-3), and third-seeded Joliet Catholic (8-1).

Survivor of the Belvidere North contest will meet the winner of the game between 16th-seeded Wauconda (5-4) and the No. 1 seed, Lombard Montini (9-0).

They are no stranger to the playoffs, having appeared 26 times and owning an overall 34-24 record. They were state champions in 1993-1994 and 1994-1995, with 14-0 and 12-2 records respectively.

Under head coach LaVern Pottinger, they defeated Bolingbrook, 7-0, for their first title and came back the following year to shut out Morris, 28-0, in the finals. Also under Pottinger, the Bucs were second in 1988-89.

More recently Belvidere appeared in the playoffs three times, losing its first game in 2011 to Marian Central; in 2012 to Kaneland; and last year 2014 to Genesseo.

In 2007, when Belvidere North opened, the Bucs reached the quarter-finals of the playoffs, where they lost to Morris, 32-27.

Belvidere North, now in its ninth year of existence, has been to the playoffs four times and owns an overall 2-4 record.

The Thunder reached the quarter-final round in 2009-2010; under their first-ever head coach Curt Tobin, where they lost to Crystal Lake Prairie Ridge, 28-20. Last year they lost their opener to Lake Forest.

Marian Central has been to the playoffs 24 times, posting a 54-20 record. They were state champions in 1983-1984, 1986-1987, 1987-1988 and 1989-1990, while finishing second in 1985-1986 and, more recently, in 2006-2007.

Kaneland is 24-15 over 19 playoff appearances, winning state in 1997-1998 and again the following year, in 1998-1999.

After starting at 2-2, Belvidere won four of its last five games for its 6-3 overall record. The Bucs closed the regular season with close games, defeating Freeport, 20-19, and Rockford East, 27-20.

North opened the fall at 3-0, including a 40-32 win over eventual NIC-10 champion Rockford Auburn. As it turned out that was the Knights only loss of the regular season.

After consecutive losses to Hononegah, 13-10 in overtime, and Harlem, 34-31, the Thunder rebounded to win three of their next four games. But they dropped the regular season finale to surging Boylan, 33-21. The perennial powerhouse Titans lost their first six games then rebounded to finish at 3-6 overall.

Belvidere and Belvidere North met in the second game of the season with the Blue Thunder winning, 41-26

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