Senior ascends as one of Bull Dogs’ defensive leaders

When Joseph Suverkrup isn’t playing football, he likes to help his father fly the family’s plane.

That hobby is merely a coincidence, given the fact the Suverkrup’s football career has taken flight this season. The Columbus North senior has been a steady presence at defensive end as a first-time varsity starter for a team that went 8-1 in the regular season and is ranked No. 6 in Class 6A.

“It’s been awesome,” Suverkrup said. “It was awesome to be a starter on JV and feel like I was contributing, but now I’m actually part of the team, it feels like.”

Suverkrup is coming off two of his best games of his career, despite being sick for both. He rode home with parents after a loss at Bloomington South because they thought he had mono. It turned out that he had swollen lymph nodes.

With fall break the following week, Suverkrup did not attend practice that Monday. He went to practice, but did not participate Tuesday or Wednesday of that week.

By game day, Suverkrup was feeling better. He didn’t start, but came in to provide the defense with a lift in a 32-29 senior night win against Southport to close the regular season.

“I was still feeling sick, but I was feeling good enough to play, and I was happy the coaches gave me an opportunity,” Suverkrup said. “That was a huge game to win, especially how we won it right down to the end. I wouldn’t have missed it for the world.”

This season, Suverkrup is tied with fellow defensive end Spencer West for the team lead with three sacks. Suverkrup is tied for third on the team with five tackles for losses.

Although he wasn’t a starter last season, Suverkrup played most of the Bull Dogs’ first-round sectional loss to Center Grove after nose tackle Hunter Wolford tore his Achilles on the first series of the game. North coach Tim Bless said Suverkrup has been a steady this season in setting the edge for the defense.

“I think that Center Grove game was an eye-opening moment for him where he finally figured out and found some self-confidence that he can in fact compete at the varsity level, and he springboarded that into a great offseason,” Bless said. “He’s built himself into a 6A-caliber defensive lineman. He’s a big frame that is physical in run defense, and he’s become a better and better pass rusher.”

The 6-foot-4, 220-pound Suverkrup is weighing an opportunity to play at Hanover next year. But he also wants to go to Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business and is looking at majoring in accounting.

On Friday night, the Bull Dogs open sectional play at New Albany. A win would put them in the sectional finals, likely against Center Grove.

So far, a 30-13 win against Columbus East the second week of the season has been the highlight to Suverkrup’s senior year. North’s victory snapped a four-game losing streak to the Olympians.

“Let’s just say we beat them by more than anybody really thought we would,” Suverkrup said. “I felt like we were going to beat them, but just actually doing it, it was amazing. Owning this town again after five years is pretty awesome.”

But beating Center Grove to win a sectional title likely would be even better.

“If we beat Center Grove, that would be amazing,” Suverkrup said.

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Name: Joseph Suverkrup

School: Columbus North

Year: Senior

Height: 6-foot-4

Weight: 220

Position: Defensive end

Sports: Football, golf

Favorite sport: Football

Other school activities: Fellowship of Christian Athletes and Republican Club. He also is an Eagle Scout.