North Central soaring after rout of Elmhurst
BY JOHN GROCHOWSKI For Sun-Times Media October 3, 2012 8:32PM
NCC Football vs. UW Lacrosse
Updated: November 5, 2012 11:45AM
As football coach at North Central since 2002, John Thorne says it took a couple of years to get the program rolling. But the Cardinals have been on a roll ever since.
With six consecutive College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin titles and a 44-10 rout of an Elmhurst team that had been explosive in nonconference play, North Central (3-1, 1-0) stands at No. 11 in the latest NCAA Division III poll conducted by D3football.com.
Against Elmhurst, Nick Kukuc ran 14 times for 116 yards and Nick Dace, who two weeks earlier kicked field goals of 55 and 53 yards, was named CCIW special teams player of the week after kicking three field goals. And Thorne couldn’t say enough about his defense, which held Elmhurst to 198 yards.
‘‘Our mike linebacker, Joey Michals [33 tackles in four games], is off to a fabulous start,’’ Thorne said. ‘‘He’s a really impressive tackler. [Preseason All-American] Josh Mitchell is off to a great start not only as a defensive back but as a punt returner [16 returns, 13-yard average].’’
The next challenge will be Saturday at Millikin (3-1, 0-1), which pushed No. 13 Illinois Wesleyan before falling 34-33 in overtime in a CCIW opener.
‘‘The thing that’s always helped us in our conference is that we’ve had more speed, and college is about speed, speed, speed,’’ Thorne said.
It’s also about a team philosophy.
‘‘The academics, we’ve had a team GPA of 3.0 or better on every team,’’ he said. ‘‘We have a lot of individuals with wonderful internships and research projects, working with Habitat for Humanity and other projects. All those things work together.’’
Linebacker Pat Dansdill of No. 20 Wheaton (3-1, 1-0) was named CCIW defensive player of the week after the Thunder crushed Augustana 49-7. A senior from Wheaton Warrenville South, he had 10 solo tackles, two for loss, two forced fumbles and a recovery.
No. 1 tumbles
A 25-13 loss to St. Francis of Indiana dropped St. Xavier five spots to No. 6 in the NAIA poll. It was St. Xavier’s first home loss since 2008. St. Francis of Joliet moved up two spots to No. 17 after walloping Waldorf 52-6.
Six turnovers doomed defending Northern Athletics Conference champ Benedictine (2-2, 0-1) to a 6-0 loss to Concordia of Wisconsin (2-2, 1-0) on Saturday in Lisle. Concordia-Chicago remained unbeaten at 4-0, 1-0 by thrashing host Rockford (1-3, 0-1). Quarterback Jake Koehler was 11-for-13 for 217 yards, and the defense forced three turnovers and six sacks. Concordia hosts Rockford Lutheran this Saturday.