Blake Serpa stood on the Central Michigan sidelines as a redshirt freshman last season.
It was extra special for the 2011 Kaneland graduate to be on the Chippewa sidelines this past October when he watched the team he is a member of upset the college that is only 15 miles from his hometown, Northern Illinois, 48-41.
“It was pretty cool, especially since I know a couple players on the team.” Serpa said, “We were also the only team in the conference to beat NIU, who then went on to become MAC champions, so that’s an accomplishment for the team as a whole.”
The 6-foot-3, 238-pound defensive end saw no playing time as a redshirt freshman in 2011, but practice and watching the team play taught him how to prepare for the upcoming season.
Serpa had a successful high school football career, but experienced most of his success his senior year when he was a member of the 12-1 team that became Northern Illinois Big 12 Conference champions. He also was a part of the team that made it to the IHSA Class 5A state semifinals.
For Serpa, he earned all-state honors as defensive end and tight end his senior year. At the defensive end position, he ended his senior season with a total of 12 touchdowns and four blocked kicks.
“It gave me a lot of confidence coming into Central Michigan,” Serpa said of his senior season, “Even though I redshirted last year, I still feel like I’ve gotten a lot better than I was when I came in.”
After a season of many accomplishments at Kaneland, Serpa waits for his chance with the Chippewas. Serpa said it was hard at times and took a while to get used to not playing. Serpa learned a lot from his peers on how to handle being a part of the scout team, but all of players he roomed with had never redshirted.
He found it hard to talk to them and get advice from the guys he was around most because they had never been in the same shoes as him.
Now he feels he has a role to set an example for the incoming players who will redshirt and might seek advice, since he was in their position only a year ago.
“It will be pretty easy to help them out since I was in their situation not too long ago,” Serpa said, “so I’ll be there to tell them how to do things right and guide them down the right path.”
Serpa feels he will now take on a leadership role with the younger players, compete for a starting position and prepare especially for when Central Michigan will face NIU in DeKalb on Sept. 29.
The game will have a different feeling for him. Serpa will come back home to Illinois, ready to play. Serpa said he is excited for his first game near his home since traveling up to Mt. Pleasant.
“I’m just excited because I get to go back to Illinois to play some football,” Serpa said, “It’s been over a year-and-a-half since I’ve played and let alone in the state of Illinois. I’m looking forward to that game.”