North Central’s Bellefeuil not retained as varsity coach

North Central’s Kevin Bellefeuil encourages the Jets during the 2017 season opener against North Dickinson. Bellefeuil was not retained as head football coach for this coming season. (Mike Mattson/Daily Press)

POWERS — North Central’s Kevin Bellefeuil — one of the area’s most successful high school football coaches — likely will not be leading the Jets this season.

Bellefeuil was not retained as varsity coach following a school board vote at a meeting on March 28.

Bellefeuil was the recommended choice by the Athletic Personnel Committee. But the motion to hire Bellefeuil as the “8-Man Varsity Football Coach” did not pass after a 3-3 vote, with one school board member absent.

Coaches at North Central must reapply for their coaching positions each season.

North Central athletic director Tony Adams said the varsity football job was posted for the public and open for applications until today. Another recommendation is likely to be voted on at the next board meeting on Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. in the high school media center.

“We are hoping to have a coach in place for the board recommendation,” Adams said.

“We are very thankful to coach Bellefeuil for all of the years, contributions and sacrifices to our school, program and community. We are thankful for what he has given to our football program.”

Ironically, North Central’s two most visible coaching jobs became vacant at the same time. Varsity boys basketball coach Adam Mercier announced his decision to step down on March 29. Adams said the boys’ basketball job was posted internally this week and — if needed — will be opened up later to the public.

Bellefeuil is a North Central graduate, lifelong resident and Hermansville business owner. He has 18 years of football coaching experience at North Central, including four years as head jayvee coach and 13 years as head varsity coach.

Last year, North Central finished 6-3, losing to eventual 8-player Division 2 state champion Forest Park 20-6 in the pre-regional contest.

Under Bellefeuil, North Central compiled a 72-54 overall record and 32-3 mark the past three seasons in 8-player. The Jets were 58-24 over the past eight seasons (five seasons in 11-player and three seasons in 8-player), with six playoff appearances and two 8-player state championships in 2015 (13-0) and 2016 (13-0).

Bellefeuil was disappointed in not being retained for the football job he still wants.

“My reaction is it’s a case of small-town politics,” Bellefeuil said. “There is a very vocal group who would like to see a change.”

Did Bellefeuil have a clue his football coaching job was in jeopardy?

“Yes, there was talk that other coaches from within the program at the lower level would like to take over the program, so I knew this was a possibility,” he said.

Bellefeuil will see what transpires at Wednesday’s school board meeting.

“There are still some things that are going to play out at the next school board meeting,” Bellefeuil said. “We will see which direction they want to go. If this is the end for me, it’s been a great ride and a great experience.

“Overall, the school board, the administration, teachers and staff have been wonderful. We are proud of what we’ve done. We took a program that was struggling — it took us awhile to get our feet under us and get things going like we wanted. But in the last eight years we’ve been very successful.”

School board members voting yes at the March 28 meeting were Kelly Plunger, Jessica Naser and Klara Grondine. Voting no were Nick Hanchek, John Johnson and Craig VanEnkevort. Ray Luft was absent from the meeting.

Bellefeuil realizes the next varsity football coach likely will be named Wednesday night.

“If this is the time, this is the time,” he said. “We have no regrets. We did everything the right way. This has been too good of an experience for Jeff Rynesh and me. We will walk away and be proud of what we’ve done. We will walk away and smile and say it was a great run. It was a great time to be a Jet.”