North Central is more than the Chase VanSchoyck show.
The 6-foot-1, 230-pound fullback runs a 4.5 40-yard dash and ran for 1,944 yards last season, averaging 10.1 yards per carry.
“He can run you over or outrun you,” coach Travis Nolting said, adding that Eastern Michigan and Ball State have visited VanSchoyck.
The Thunderbirds, 8-3 a year ago, return eight starters to Nolting’s offense, including quarterback Dillon Bailey (6-0, 190), who rushed for 1,000 yards as a junior.
“He runs the offense well, he’s also very quick, second fastest on the team. He improved a lot this offseason,” Nolting said.
The offseason work of the big guys in front of the two 1,000-yard rushers has Nolting encouraged a bigger season could be ahead.
Four startling linemen and a senior returnee will try to keep the vaunted rushing attack moving in big chunks again in 2013.
Seniors Harcourt Alton (6-1, 300), Austin Kutch (5-11, 245), Dalton Burris (5-10, 265), Alek Copeland (6-2, 295) and junior Gavin McCullough (6-0, 250) all bench press over 265 pounds and squat over 440.
“Really big, really aggressive and really strong,” Nolting said of his line.
Three tight ends will see the field as they Thunderbirds will have to replace standout Dante Rehmel.
Sophomore Ian McCombs (6-2, 205), sophomore Neal Green (6-4, 205) and senior Cam Barnard are all strong blockers, said Nolting, who will have a tailback-by-committee approach. Seniors Nick Stucker (5-9, 170), Ben Lewis (6-0, 180), Logan Berg (5-10, 205) and Anthony Risley (5-6, 180) will all contribute.
The Thunderbirds are 16-5 the past two seasons because they play pretty good defense as well.
Eight starters return including Copeland at nose tackle and Kutch and Justin Flesher (6-0, 185) at defensive end.
Team captain Berg (5-10, 205) leads the linebacking corp that will have to replace Rehmel, who’s now playing for Walsh University. Sophomore Cale Adams (5-11, 210) and Barnard will also start at linebacker in a 3-3-5 scheme.
Lewis, Risley and VanSchoyck will play safety with Stucker, Bailey and Dillian Howard (5-11, 165) playing cornerback. Copeland will be the kicker, while Ian McCombs (6-1, 205) is the punter.
The Thunderbirds are ranked outside the top 10 in the preseason coaches poll, but Nolting is confident his team could contend for a state title.
First things first, the Thunderbirds will try to win the school’s first conference title in the Southwest Conference.
“Our goal is to win a conference championship. We’ve never won an outright conference title. We want to bring the first sectional title ever and keep progressing,” Nolting said.