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Bellefeuil resigns as NC football coach

POWERS — The Kevin Bellefeuil Era has come to a close at North Central.

Bellefeuil, the Jets’ successful 13-year varsity football coach, resigned and made a public comment Wednesday night in an emotional packed school board meeting in the high school library.

The board unanimously approved North Central jayvee head coach Leo Gorzinski to take over as the next head varsity coach of the Jets.

Wednesday’s action followed a March 28 meeting in which the board voted 3-3, with one board member absent, to retain Bellefeuil as coach. Due to the 3-3 tie, there was no resolution, the motion was dead and Bellefeuil was still the Jets’ head coach.

The process was opened up again last week with Gorzinski and Bellefeuil as the only applicants. Neither was interviewed again, with Bellefeuil still the recommended choice of the Athletic Personnel Committee, Superintendent Bruce Tapio said.

But Bellefeuil made the decision to resign, leading to Wednesday’s final vote for Gorzinski to be the next head coach.

“I was informed as I applied for this position again I would be the nominee to be voted on,” Bellefeuil said Wednesday night to board members. “And after talking with some of my friends and my family, I informed (Athletic Director Tony Adams) last night that I would like to pull my application. So effectively, I came here to resign as the football coach at North Central.”

Bellefeuil leaves with a 72-54 overall varsity record. The Jets won 8-player state titles in their perfect 13-0 seasons of 2015 and 2016. They finished 58-24 with six playoff appearances the past eight seasons (five seasons in 11-player and three seasons in 8-player). Last year’s team finished 6-3, with a 20-6 first-round playoff loss to eventual state champion Forest Park.

Gorzinski, an area builder/contractor and 1991 North Central graduate, spent four years as a youth football coach and three years as the head jayvee coach.

“We’re excited about it,” Gorzinski said about taking over the football program. “We’re not here to prove anybody wrong. This is a transition that has been talked about for about four years now.

“Thank (Bellefeuil) for his time and thank him for his memories and things I learned from him on the sidelines. He set a high bar. We’re moving on to the future.”

Rumors of a coaching change have filled the air in the off-season. And it appears to have led to divided loyalties in the community for Bellefeuil and Gorzinski.

There was more than one mention at Wednesday’s meeting about a time now for healing in the community.

“Everybody was unsure which direction the football program was going to go,” Gorzinski said. “There was more uncertainty about who was going to be their head coach vs. people at each other’s throats. It was never a personal thing. It was just students and athletes didn’t know which direction they were going to go. We have off-season programs in place and everything has been on hold right now. It’s just about moving forward.”

Adams and Gorzinski planned to meet immediately to talk about the off-season preparations for the 2018 season.

“We are going to do what we can to put our boys and coaches in a situation to maintain and move forward with our football program, which is widely seen as one of the best 8-man football programs in the state,” Adams said.

“That is going to be the goal, which it is every year. We want to put our student-athletes in a good position.”

Bellefeuil read from parts of his resignation letter in a 13-minute public comment to the board.

He highlighted the fund-raising projects that helped fund the program with safety equipment over the past 13 years and led to a weight room at no cost to the school.

He thanked his statisticians, support staff, trainers, bus drivers, past assistant coaches and most current assistants Scott Kleiman and Jeff Rynesh.

Gradually, Bellefeuil became emotional as he addressed forces seeking change in the football program.

“This whole thing stinks,” he said. “People come up and say, ‘I have X amount of kids in the school and I want to see a change in the coaching staff.’ Why? Because we did something wrong. Do you treat a teacher that way? It doesn’t work like that.

“There is a scene in a Batman movie, in which the police commissioner says to Batman, ‘You may come in as a hero, but if you hang around long enough you become the villain. We never thought we were heroes. We just did the job you asked us to do and we built our program. I have no idea how we became villains. None. We’ve done everything right.

“The end sounds bad, but I do want to thank you for a wonderful experience,” he added in his closing thoughts.

“It’s something I will always remember — the kids, the schools we played, the places we played at, the bus rides, the team dinners, all of those things, fantastic. I want to thank the administration, the school boards that were here before, the bus drivers, everybody who was involved. Thank You.”

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