HARVEY – Thornton flashed plenty of speed during a 54-19 SouthWest Suburban Red win Friday over Lincoln-Way Central.
The loss eliminated the Knights (4-5, 3-4) from playoff consideration. It marks the fourth time in the past five seasons the Knights have finished sub-.500. That hadn’t happened since the early 1990s.
“I don’t want one game to define our season,” Central coach Jeremy Cordell said. “Their work ethic stands out to me. These guys worked very hard and that says a lot about this group.”
It’s a group that included 28 seniors, many of them starters on offense.
“I am really proud of this group,” Cordell said. “I saw a ton of progress from the summer until now. Guys stepped up in ways we didn’t think they would. We had a lot of senior leadership on the offensive side of the ball. And our defense is pretty young, so we’re excited about that.”
Central was productive on its first two drives but netted only three points.
The Knights’ first drive stalled at the Wildcats’ 2-yard line, but Brock Krohe hit a 20-yard field goal to give the visitors a 3-0 lead with 6:46 left in the first quarter.
Thornton (8-1, 6-1) scored the next 28 points to take control.
Central quarterback Austin Strilko accounted for two scores. He ran 2 yards for a touchdown in the second quarter and hit Nolan Hayes from 11 yards out in the third quarter.
Thornton totaled 416 yards of offense and scored seven touchdowns. The Knights ran 13 more plays but totaled only 222 yards.
“There’s no question they are a good football team and very athletic, especially on the offensive side,” Cordell said of the Wildcats. “I thought they picked their poison and did what they wanted to do. We had a hard time stopping them and as a defensive coach, that’s hard.”
Senior Dan Eber led the Knights with 43 yards rushing on 10 carries. Strilko, also a senior, completed 10 of his 16 passes for 134 yards and a touchdown.
Senior John Ramos caught three passes for 45 yards. Two of those catches were highlight-reel plays. The first was a one-handed grab on a post pattern down the middle of the field. The other was a tip-toe along the sideline just before the end of the half.