Jared Cantu

By Kathryn Menue


BELVIDERE – On Thursday, April 28 at 4 p.m., Belvidere North High School had another reason to celebrate.

Jared Cantu, a senior at BNHS, signed his letter of intent to play football and baseball at North Park University in Chicago. There, he will also major in communications.

Cantu faced a tough decision when it came to choosing a college to attend in the fall. He was torn between going to Augustana College or North Park University. In the end, the decision came down to the latter, which fit Cantu’s financial needs better.

After meeting with coaches, North Park ended up being the perfect fit for him.

Cantu looks forward to the next steps in his academic and athletic careers.

“I’m looking forward to just the college experience and being able to play the sports I love for a few more years,” Cantu said.

This move onto the collegiate level has been a long time coming since Cantu has played baseball since he was 4-years-old and he’s played football since he was 8-years-old.

“I played soccer before and went onto flag football and ended up liking it,” Cantu said. Ever since his move from soccer to focus on baseball and football, Cantu has dominated the playing fields from his athletic prowess and pure love for the games.

However, don’t try to ask Cantu to choose between his two favorite sports. He says his favorite sport is determined by the season. In the summer, he favors baseball, but when fall comes football rules.

The nearly 35 attendants at Cantu’s letter declaration could see the passion he held for his two favorite sports.

“Jared’s been one of the most electrifying players for me to watch,” Athletic Director Jody Flynn said.

Cantu’s football and baseball coaches felt the same when it came to Cantu’s spirit on the field.

“I’ve had the privilege and the honor to coach Jared for the past four years,” Football Coach Jeff Beck said. “When he got on the football field his height and his weight did not matter. Jared definitely stepped it up this year.”

The proof is in the statistics with Cantu running 2,242 yards in the season and scoring 32 touchdowns.

“Every time he touched the ball was almost a first down,” Coach Beck said.

Most of all, Cantu is a great athlete not only on the field, but off the field as well.

“He didn’t care about getting the ball; he cared about winning,” Coach Beck said. “North Park is getting a hell of a football player, baseball player, and a great person.”

Cantu’s baseball coach felt the same way.

“I’m really proud of him. He’s a hard-worker, a leader, and always positive no matter what,” Baseball Coach Jeff Dobbertin said.

Coach Dobbertin believes that Cantu’s positive attitude and passion for the game helped lead Blue Thunder to regional champions and to the sectional finals.

“He’s a tremendous ball player,” Coach Dobbertin said. “He’s going to do great in college.”

Coach Ryan was impressed by Cantu’s athletic ability as well.

“I think if I could explain Jared in one word, he’s a playmaker,” Coach Ryan said. “He was ridiculously smart on the field. His senior year, I found out how special he was. When he made plays, it was so much fun to watch.”

From all of his coaches and teachers support, Cantu has achieved great things in his high school career.

He was a scholar athlete his junior and senior year, an honor roll student, a member of the W and N Clubs, a football and baseball player for four years, with three of those years being at the varsity level for both sports, and an indoor track athlete his senior year.

For football, Cantu was named Offensive Player of the Year his junior year, MVP his senior year, and First Team All Conference Running Back his senior year.

In baseball, he was named MVP his junior year.

Cantu’s stepfather shared in the pride of his stepsons accomplishments.

“It’s really through good friends he’s made and coaches that have made him who he is today,” his stepfather said.

Cantu was very appreciative of all the compliments and well-wishes he received.

“Playing football and baseball for the past four years has been the greatest time of my life,” Cantu said. With thanks to his friends, family, and coaches he ended by saying, “I will cherish the days of being a Belvidere North Blue Thunder for the rest of my days.”

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