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Small colleges: North Central football coach John Thorne reaches milestone

Updated: November 4, 2013 12:16PM

John Thorne has reached 100 career victories, but the North Central football coach doesn’t want the milestone talk to center on him.

“The only bad thing is I was in charge of the 27 losses,” said Thorne, who is in his 12th season at North Central. “The players took care of the hundred victories, and did a nice job, along with the assistant coaches.”

The Cardinals (3-0) held steady at No. 4 in the poll after a 27-7 victory at Wisconsin-Stevens Point (2-1) for Thorne’s 100th. North Central had scored 41 points in each of its first two victories while rolling up 344 yards rushing against Wisconsin-La Cross and 280 against Wisconsin-Stout.

Against Stevens Point, North Central runners were held to 71 yards, but quarterback Spencer Stanek came up big, completing 27 of 37 passes for 364 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions. Linebacker Nick Slezak made a career-high 14 tackles, while Michael Monterrubio made two interceptions and Connor Douglas one to boost North Central’s defense.

Thorne pointed to Slezak as one of the keys to the team.

“We moved him from defensive back to linebacker in the offseason, and he’s averaging over 10 tackles a game. He’s been a huge part of our defensive side. Shane Dierking is our captain and safety and he has just had a phenomenal year for us over there.’’

On offense, Stanek has completed 78.6 percent of his passes, going 77-for-98 for 962 yards, nine touchdowns and no interceptions.

“He has just had three amazing games right in a row,” Thorne said. “He’s off to a terrific start. One of his favorite targets is Peter Sorenson [27 catches, 369 yards, two touchdowns] who is a big, big, tall wide receiver who has terrific hands.”

Next up is a CCIW opener at Elmhurst (1-2), which struggled last week in a 10-0 loss to Chicago.

Cougars win showdown

Two big returns by Dave Marciano and five field goals by Spencer Nolen enabled St. Xavier (3-1) to leave Joliet with a 37-25 Mid-States Football Association crossover victory over St. Francis (2-2).

Marciano returned a punt 81 yards for a touchdown in the first quarter, the longest punt return in school history. Then, in the fourth quarter, Marciano returned a blocked extra point to the opposite end zone for a safety.

St. Xavier moved up two spots to No. 3 in the NAIA rankings. St. Francis, which had been No. 22, dropped out of the top 25. On Saturday, the Cougars play host to No. 4 Grand View while the Saints play at Concordia of Michigan.

Foresters unbeaten

Lake Forest (4-0, 3-0) is one of four Midwest Conference teams without a league loss after winning 14-7 at Knox (0-3, 0-4). On Saturday, the Foresters are at home against Carroll (1-2, 2-2).

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