There are many reasons senior tight end Peyton Seiple enjoys playing football for Naperville North.
One stands out, however.
“One thing (coach) Sean Drendel really does give us is making sure it feels like a family,” he said. “I’ve met some of my best friends there, and I just love playing good football with the program.”
The family atmosphere is paramount at Naperville North and is fueled in part by clans like the Seiples, who have deep Naperville roots.
Peyton Seiple’s great-grandfather William came to Naperville in 1962 and raised four children. They include Bill, a 1971 Naperville Central graduate who played baseball and basketball for the Redhawks and later coached his alma mater’s baseball team to two state championships during a Hall of Fame career that ended in 2010.
Peyton Seiple, who also plays baseball, has two great mentors in his grandfather and his father Ryan, who played football and baseball at Naperville North.
“It really is great with my dad previously playing,” Peyton Seiple said. “It’s also great to talk to my grandpa about the rivalry between Naperville Central and Naperville North. My dad and I kind of push more toward the Naperville North side when talking to him, but it’s always fun.”
Ryan Seiple was a member of the Naperville North football team that won the 1992 Class 6A state championship and was the starting center for the 1994 state runner-up. He also played first base for the baseball team, which, he proudly points out, won the DuPage Valley Conference title during his junior and senior years, beating out his father’s team. His teammates included future major league Jerry Hairston Jr.
“That was difficult to do against my dad’s team,” Ryan Seiple said. “But they would always go farther than us in the playoffs.”
Peyton Seiple enjoys following in the footsteps of his father and grandfather, who are never far away. Bill Seiple attends most of his football games, and Ryan Seiple gets to call out his son’s name as Naperville North’s public address announcer.
That, too, is a family tradition. Bill Seiple was Naperville Central football’s public address announcer for many years and was on the mic for the 1994 state semifinal game in which Ryan Seiple’s Huskies beat the Redhawks.
“It’s kind of cool that my dad got to announce me way back in the day,” Ryan Seiple said. “I get to do it for Peyton, and it’s a lot of fun, not only with Peyton but with many of the players he has played with since fourth grade. That makes the experience so enjoyable.”
Ryan Seiple lived in Oswego — where his wife, Jessica, is a teacher — until the family returned to Naperville in 2014.
“We moved back, quite frankly, because we missed the rest of the Seiples and missed Naperville,” Ryan Seiple said. “Whether it’s Naperville North or Naperville Central, being a part of this school district and this community is what our family is all about.”
Peyton Seiple said he loves getting baseball instruction from his grandfather.
“He’s really great when it comes to hitting,” Peyton Seiple said. “He’s really good at technique and helps me get better. He always is someone I look up to and try to learn as much as possible from.”
Ryan Seiple fulfills the same role on the football side.
“In fourth grade my dad introduced me to football, and I got to meet some of my best friends that way,” Peyton Seiple said. “So I just kept sticking with it, and I’m glad I did.”
The 6-foot, 185-pounder is enjoying his first season as a starter for the Huskies (5-2, 2-2). He had a career-high three catches in a 10-7 DuPage Valley Conference loss to Naperville Central on Sept. 30, although he gained only 2 yards and also was on the receiving end of a couple of bruising tackles.
“I did take a few hits,” Peyton Seiple said. “But that’s what I love about the game.”
Drendel, a 1990 Naperville North graduate, said he loves what Peyton Seiple in particular and the Seiple family in general bring to the Huskies. He also coached Ryan Seiple and was a student of Bill Seiple’s in junior high.
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“I go quite far back with the Seiples,” Drendel said. “They’re a really good family, have been really good to Naperville North.
“We try to create a family atmosphere. It has a kind of an old Naperville feel to it. There’s still a lot of things that we do that were done traditionally back in the ’80s and ’90s.”
Drendel said Peyton Seiple, a National Honor Society member, can do a lot of things well, including playing tight end, slot receiver and fullback.
“We love his versatility and athleticism,” Drendel said. “He’s got a little bit of his dad in him. Peyton is a good blocker and also has the hands to be outside.”
Peyton Seiple was called up to the varsity baseball team at the end of last season, starting the regular-season finale in left field and the Class 3A regional semifinal loss to Plainfield North at first base. He said he wants to play baseball in college, but that isn’t his immediate focus.
“I’m just looking forward to Week 9 when we play (Central) again,” he said. “I’m just ready to bring the energy. Every year when we play them, the whole Naperville community really comes together, and it’s one of the best games of the season.”
Matt Le Cren is a freelance reporter for the Naperville Sun.