DOLTON – Lincoln-Way Central’s football team would have reassembled at 7:30 a.m. Saturday regardless of Friday night’s outcome at Thornridge. This time, being on dawn patrol might have felt like punishment.
Few were smiling on the Knights’ sideline, even though Central (3-3, 2-2) scored a 22-6 SouthWest Suburban Red victory.
The outcome was positive and the defense was good. After that, coach Jeremy Cordell’s list of things to work on runs from here to eternity.
“The bottom line is, our offensive side of the ball needs to step up and answer the bell,” Cordell said.
The Knights gained 284 yards, 179 on the ground, with Dan Eber gaining 65 on 10 carries. But the ineffectiveness was seen too often, punctuated by a trio of turnovers, stuck in Cordell’s craw. So did 42 yards in offensive penalties, plus two more calls declined by Thornridge when forcing turnovers.
“Those are things we can control,” Cordell said. “That’s got to be cleaned up.”
The good news came on defense, where the Falcons (1-5, 0-4) were held to their lowest output of the season, largely because of a first half where the Knights limited them to 6 yards and minus-1 on the ground.
Only after the issue had been decided with Zach Rudsinski’s 5-yard run for a 22-0 lead with 9:47 to play was Thornridge, exclusively in the air, able to move the ball consistently.
“I’m super proud,” Cordell said. “Just watching them kind of form
our identity, start to buy in to what we’re trying to do, I’m really proud of that.”
The Knights had taken a 14-0 halftime lead despite the trio of turnovers. Nico Muto’s 3-yard plunge with 4:22 left in the first quarter followed the first of Thornridge’s two first-half turnovers (the Falcons also had three giveaways). The most polished drive of the half resulted in quarterback Austin Strilko’s 1-yard plunge, the last snap of a 10-play, 57-yard series, 3:02 into the second quarter.
The Knights made it 22-0 on a 5-yard dash by Rudsinski (49 yards, 14 carries) with 9:47 remaining. Strilko was 6 of 11 for 105 yards two interceptions.
Thornridge’s score, a 5-yard completion from Cornell Ousley to Treyance Rawls, came with 5:41 to play.
Cordell, like every other coach in the four-school Lincoln-Way group, doesn’t know what will happen when four schools become three with the closure of North, where George Czart is the coach. Cordell left Glenbard South to join Central’s staff and faculty this year. If there’s a timetable for finding out, he didn’t share it.
“I’m confident in my abilities,” Cordell said.
Thornridge won the sophomore game, 14-12.