Joe Belden is back at North. Or still at North. The terminology is kind of confusing.
Belden coached the Redskins from 2002-05 and has been a teacher at North ever since, practically as connected to the team as he ever was. Certainly connected to the players, who he saw frequently during the day.
That familiarity, plus a chance to duplicate the success he enjoyed in his first stint at North, enticed Belden to give it another chance.
“I never left, so I’ve been working with all of these kids for the six or seven years I’ve been out,” Belden said. “I see a group of kids that want to be coached, that want to have success and a group of kids that are willing to pay any price to get there. Those are the kids that every coach loves to coach.”
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Belden led North to an 8-3 record in 2003, when the Redskins’ quarterback was current Houston Texans defensive back Elbert Mack. North likely won’t boast a future NFL player this year, but the Redskins do possess a relatively healthy amount of talent for a team that finished 1-8.
Sean Bernard and Caleb Franklin are the cornerstones of the defense, penciled in at linebacker and defensive end. Belden is using a pencil on his depth chart for now so no player, returning starter or not, gets comfortable.
“Nobody has a secure position,” Belden said. “With their work ethic, will they be there? Absolutely. But we’re telling them that everybody has to work for their spot every day, trying to create competition.”
North is in a rare situation among one-win teams, having reached the playoffs with a win in district play against Campus. That may be something to build upon, and Belden believes he has the rest of the blueprint.
“We demand toughness and we demand effort from them,” Belden said. “If we can get them to buy into those things, I think we can get things turned around here, and hopefully sooner than later.”
Coach: Joe Belden, fifth season, 12-26
League: City League
Last season: 1-9, lost in first round of Class 6A playoffs
Last five seasons: 6-41
Projected 2013 playoff team? Yes
Top skill players
|Sept. 6||East (at Heights)|
|Sept. 12||Carroll (at Heights)|
|Sept. 20||Kapaun (at WSU)|
|Sept. 27||Great Bend (at Heights)|
|Oct. 4||Southeast (at NW)|
|Oct. 10||West (at NW)|
|Oct. 18||at South|
|Oct. 25||Northwest (at Heights)|
|Nov. 1||Campus (at Heights)|
Sean Bernard on his team
What North does well: “We’re going to be pretty powerful as far as offense. We’re going to be running at you and we’ll hit you in the mouth if you try to stop us. We’re going to have a pretty big and powerful backfield.”
What has to improve: “Everything is starting to come together with the new coaching and the new schemes and stuff, but I would say playing together and just playing as one. Offensively and defensively as a unit, just playing as one.”