By Trenten Scheidegger

Since 2017, the playoffs have been a struggle for the Belvidere North Blue Thunder football team as they have been unable to make it out of the first round. That all changed on Friday, Oct. 27, however, as the Thunder rolled their way past a tough Chicago-Amundsen squad.

Amundsen finished the regular season with a 5-4 record after dropping a one-score game in the final week. Despite their record, their high-scoring offense made them a threat coming into the first round. The North defense came in on a roll, however, allowing just 21 total points in their last two games played. That defense showed up once again in the first round of the playoffs.

It was Joseph Brown who put the Thunder on the board first. On third-and-long, Brown took a pitch around the left side and the race was on. Brown proved he was healthy in his return as he kicked on the afterburners, outrunning the Amundsen defense for a 27-yard touchdown.

Amundsen responded with a long drive of their own, but they were unable to capitalize against the Thunder defense. A fumbled exchange in the backfield had the ball back in North’s possession, and the offense went right back to work. The Thunder quickly moved down the field and Max Gyllenswan capped the drive off with a 2-yard plunge into the end zone on a quarterback sneak. Alan Perez drilled the extra point, giving the Thunder an early 14-0 advantage.

Before the end of the first half, Perez drilled a 38-yard field goal. That loomed large, as it gave North a three-score advantage as they entered halftime with a 17-0 lead.

The Thunder carried their momentum into the early parts of the second half. In the third quarter, it was Nico Bertolino’s turn to get on the board. After an extensive drive into Amundsen territory, Bertolino took a handoff in shotgun formation and scampered up the middle for a 17-yard touchdown run. Perez drilled another extra-point, and the Thunder went up 24-0.

Early in the fourth, the Thunder would add onto their lead. In round one, it was all about spreading the love for Thunder. Brown, Gyllenswan, Perez and Bertolino had already put points on the board. Trent Dinsmore became the fifth North player to score and the fourth to get a touchdown as he took a 6-yard run into the end zone. Later in the fourth,

Salvatore Laudicina got involved in the scoring party with one of the biggest plays of the night. Laudicina took a handoff right up the middle and, after breaking an early tackle, sprinted 68 yards to paydirt. Laudicina’s score put the Thunder up by a score of 31-6.

Amundsen would not go away easy, however. After some late defensive substitutions, Amundsen found some offensive momentum. It was too little too late, though, as North held on for a 38-20 victory in the first round.

Belvidere North will host Wauconda this Saturday, Nov. 4, at 1 p.m.

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