Transfer Joel Bouagnon a perfect fit for Aurora Christian
By Paul Johnson For Sun-Times Media November 10, 2012 10:47PM
Aurora Christian’s Joel Bouagnon scores a touchdown against Winnebago during last week’s quarterfinal win in Aurora. | Donnell Collins~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: December 12, 2012 6:28AM
When former Burlington Central standout Joel Bouagnon decided to transfer to Aurora Christian for his senior season, Eagles coach Don Beebe was understandably skeptical.
“I’m always leery about a kid coming in, especially a senior, that has star status, because I gotta tell you guys, it doesn’t work,” Beebe said. “I’ve had it before. It’s more of a hassle than it’s worth. This is one exception.”
Bouagnon’s seamless transition to the Eagles’ program continued with Saturday’s 49-14 Class 3A quarterfinal win over Winnebago. Bouagnon rushed 15 times for 215 yards and four touchdowns, caught two passes for another 36 yards and had a key second-half interception on defense with the game still in doubt. He had six carries of 20 or more yards in the win.
“When you have guys transferring in their senior year, the chemistry can be off,” said Aurora Christian senior Brandon Mayes, a fellow Northern Illinois University recruit who plans to room with Bouagnon in college. “Not with Joel. I thank God every day that I get to have him here, that I get to room with him the next four years. It’s just awesome.”
Beebe hid Bouagnon, who was the Elgin area’s leading rusher with 1,446 yards last year at Burlington Central, early in the season. He had less carries in his first four games at Aurora Christian combined (14) than he had Saturday (15).
“Joel has come in with such a humble attitude,” Beebe said. “He barely touched the ball in the first four games. I never heard him complain one time. I was trying to keep him quiet. (Quarterback Ryan McQuade) was new; I had to get him going. I knew later on that was really going to pay dividends. I knew at some time, this kid was going to be unleashed. We call him the train.”
Bouagnon quickly made up for lost time. He rolls into next weekend’s state semifinal game at Sterling Newman with 123 carries for 1,267 yards and 18 touchdowns, averaging a shade over 10 yards per carry. Though the stats may not be as gaudy as his time with the Rockets, he has reached heights far higher than he ever did at Burlington Central team-wise. He never got out of the first round of the playoffs before this season.
“Before the game, I had a different feeling that I never felt before,” the soft-spoken Bouagnon said. “It’s something special. I couldn’t ask for a better team. It’s just been a great experience. I’ll never forget it.”
The reason he has been able to experience all of this with the Eagles was due to his attitude when he transferred in. It can be a tricky proposition.
“The best thing about Joel is that he’s so unselfish,” Mayes said. “Last year when he was at Burlington, that dude was getting the ball 30 times a game. You will never hear him say, ‘Come on man, let me get the ball.’ It’s just a testament to his humble spirit. I love the guy.”
Now that Bouagnon has experienced what most of his teammates experienced last season en route to the Class 3A state championship, he doesn’t want it to end.
“Every high school wants this,” Bouagnon said. “We’ll keep going. Let’s get that state title.”