Kyle Pugh leads Bloom into unchartered territory

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Kyle Pugh’s season-long goal is very clear: lead Bloom to where it’snever gone before.

When you consider Bloom’s football program dates back to 1924, Pugh’s goal sounds lofty.

Success, however, has eluded Bloom for the greater part of itsexistence. Since the state playoffs formed in 1974, Bloom hasqualified for the postseason five times and never advanced beyond thesecond round.

Pugh and his teammates plan on doing something about that this season.

If the first four weeks are any indication, the 2014 season has themakings of a record-setting one for Bloom.

“I don’t think there’s a limit to what we can achieve,” said Pugh, alinebacker. “If we have a positive attitude every game, we can go veryfar.”

The Blazing Trojans are coming off a 57-0 win over Hammond Gavit toimprove to 3-1. Four points — a 17-14 loss in Week 2 to undefeatedLincoln-Way West — is all that separates Bloom from being 4-0.

“We’ve definitely gotten closer as a team and we’re playing for eachother,” Pugh said. “We’re playing pretty well, but I believe we canplay better.”

Pugh was a sophomore on the varsity in 2012 when Bloom qualified forthe Class 8A playoffs for the first time in 22 years. The BlazingTrojans again made the playoffs in ’13.

However, neither experiencelasted beyond the first round.

The one and only time Bloom advanced to the second round occurred in 1988—before Pugh and his teammates were born.

Pugh takes great pride in being a part of the ’12 team that ended atwo-decade plus drought of experiencing playoff football.

“I was part of a group to make the playoffs for the first time in along time,” he said. “That team will always be remembered for that.

This year’s team has to do something that’s never been done before.That’s our goal — to make history.”

The 6-1, 215-pound Pugh likely will go down as one of the program’sgreatest players.

He boasts the speed and quickness to go fromsideline-to-sideline and the strength to knock an opposing player onhis backside.

He’s also a diligent in the classroom, ranking in the top 25 of hisclass with a 3.7 GPA.

His skills in the classroom and on the field attracted the attentionof a number of Division I college programs, including Bowling Greenand Syracuse.

On Monday, however, Pugh committed to Northern Illinois.

“I loved it during my visit,” Pugh said. “I got a chance to be aroundthe guys. The game day experience was really good. I just lovedeverything about the school.”

Once his college career is complete, Pugh would like to impart hisknowledge of the game and wisdom on to the next generation ofplayers.

Similar to his father Darryl, who coached Kyle while he was astudent at St. Agnes School in Chicago Heights.

“The one thing my dad always told us is the one thing that can’t betaken away from you is how hard you work,” Pugh said. “I’ve alwaysremembered that.

I’d like to teach kids the fundamentals of the gameand have a positive affect on their lives and make an impact on themfulfilling their dreams.”

Whether Bloom fulfills its ambitions of advancing further in theplayoffs than any of its predecessors remains to be seen.

However,there’s no denying the impact Pugh has made on the program.

“Kyle is the best I’ve ever coached,” Bloom coach Tony Palombi said.

“In terms of speed, smarts and ability, he’s the total package.”

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