The Northgate Broncos football team is ready for an exciting year. After going 8-3 last season, winning the DAL league, and hosting a home playoff game in the NCS tournament for the first time in five years, Coach Ben Ballard has big expectations for this season.
Last year’s team, which included 13 juniors returning as seniors, was led by two MVP’s who are also returning as seniors, John Pelletier and Emilio Pucci. Pelletier was the league offensive MVP at quarterback, and Pucci was the league defensive MVP at the safety position. Pucci also plays on offense as a wide receiver, catching passes from his long-time best friend Pelletier.
The two met in Kindergarten at Walnut Acres. They were in the same class and were seated alphabetically (next to each other since both last names begin with “P”), which led to them becoming best friends over the years. They played multiple sports together and at age 8 began playing flag football with the Walnut Creek Youth Athletic Association. Their first team was the Packers, and both their dads coached the team. “My favorite memory of playing football with Emilio,” said Pelletier, “was probably when we threw our first touchdown…he was lined up on the outside and I threw the ball as far as I could and he came and ran under it.”
Pucci added, “We dreamed as little kids about playing high school football together and making it to the top.” They both hope to continue their football journeys into college.
Coach Ballard and his two MVP’s agree that the reason for the team’s success last year was the hard work they put in and the chemistry the players had on and off the field with each other. In 2020, the pandemic caused the fall football season to be postponed to the spring or 2021. So during the fall, small pods worked out together, doing weights and working on skills. That spring of 2021 they went 4-1 in the shortened season and were eager to build on that success in the 2021 fall season. It helped that there wasn’t much downtime between spring of ‘21 and summer of ‘21 when workouts began for the next season. Hopefully that momentum will carry on into the 2022 season as well.
Coach Ballard added, “The team did a good job of creating comradery. Everyone had role and knew they were a part of something bigger.”
We hope to see you out in the stands on Friday nights this fall, rooting for our home team. Go Broncos!
By Kara Navolio, Resident since 1991