Football: Bloom hopes to blaze a new trail — to second round of the playoffs
By Pat Disabato firstname.lastname@example.org July 15, 2014 9:42PM
Bloom quarterback Jordan Bonavides for 7 on 7 at Homewood-Flossmoor, Friday, July 11th, 2014, in Flossmoor. | Gary Middendorf/for Sun-Times Media
Updated: July 16, 2014 2:13AM
Bloom received a taste, albeit a sample size, of playoff football the past two seasons — eliminated from the Class 8A postseason each time in the first round.
With 13 starters back, however, the Blazing Trojans are expecting an extended stay in 2014.
“As far as where we’re at this year compared to last year at this time, we’re way ahead,” Bloom coach Tony Palombi said during Friday’s Battle of the Border 7-on-7 Passing Tournament hosted by Homewood-Flossmoor.
“We had a very good showing in the weight room. The kids’ attitudes have been great. Just making the playoffs again this year, we’re done with being satisfied with that. The kids want more.”
Much of the Blazing Trojans’ ability to score more points will hinge on the performance of quarterback Jordan Benavides. The senior is a dangerous dual threat, with the ability to attack opponents with his arm and legs.
“Jordan can get the job done running and passing,” Palombi said. “We’re going to give him the chance to do both.”
Benavides, however, has multiple weapons at his disposal, particularly in the backfield where Raeson Reese, Trenton Gilbert and twin brothers Emmanuel and Raphael Williams will receive turns carrying the ball.
Gilbert is a transfer from T.F. South, while the Williams brothers arrive from Shepard.
“We haven’t had this much depth in the backfield in a long time,” Palombi said. “We have some options back there.”
There’s no denying who the star of the show is on defense. That would be senior linebacker Kyle Pugh, a 6-1, 205-pound three-year starter.
“Kyle is one of the best I’ve ever coached,” Palombi said. “In terms of speed, smarts and ability, he’s the total package.”
Pugh is confident when it comes to offense, defense and special teams, the Blazing Trojans resemble the total package.
“We’re definitely capable of having a way better season this year,” he said. “We look much better.”
However, the one element the Blazing Trojans lack, according to Pugh, is a family bond. He plans on doing everything in his power to bring his teammates closer together.
“We have to spend more time with each other after practice,” he said. “The relationships you build off the field help you on the field. We have to get everyone together and make it a family.”
Pugh has received more than 10 Division I college scholarship offers, with Syracuse, Northern Illinois and Bowling Green among his suitors.
As much as he appreciates the attention from various colleges, his primary focus is on his final prep season at Bloom.
“My goal was to be a Division I athlete,” Pugh said. “As the process goes on, that’s not what’s most important to me. I want to make this season a memorable one. I want to accomplish something special for this school and community.”