Jeff Thorne on WashU Win and CCIW Championship ahead of North Central Football’s regular season finale against North Park.
With his team’s victory in its final regular season road game, Thorne’s Cardinals clinched at least a share of the CCIW title and would seal the title for themselves with a victory on Senior Day. He said it would be incredibly meaningful to the entire program, but particularly the fifth-year seniors who have never won an outright conference championship, the last one for the Cardinals coming in 2016.
This would be Thorne’s second solo championship, twenty years since his father John took over the program, and with the win over WashU the Cardinals now have 15 total CCIW championships.
That most recent victory stood apart from the Cardinals’ previous too wins in how strong the offense started. Thorne praised his team’s focus and execution on offense to being the game after a couple of slow starts, as well as the defense’s continued strong showing with a shutout in the first half.
Another noticeable difference on offense was the absence of sophomore Matt Robinson, who was sidelined this week with an injury. As a result, the offense had to adapt and ran both more plays with no tight ends or with two tight ends rather than their more common one-tight end setups. Thorne praised Robinson’s versatility as both a pass-catcher and blocker, which allows for so much offensive flexibility.
In addition to senior Dan Gilroy, who Thorne said is playing at “an All-American level,” there was a chance for other players to get sacks this weekend including Brandon Greifelt, Braden Lindmark, Cameron Marton and Tyler Rich. Thorne said the entire defensive line has worked so hard this season, and showing up on the stat sheet is well deserved.
Last time the Cardinals faced the North Park Vikings they won 77-0. Thorne said the team will have to balance the celebrations of senior day and (hopefully) a conference championship with not losing sight of the importance of this as just another football game on their route to defending their national title.