NAPERVILLE, Ill. (CBS) — Chicago’s pro teams may not be doing much well right now, but a local college team is playing for a national championship on Friday night.
CBS 2’s Megan Mawicke found out there’s plenty of excitement at North Central College in Naperville.
Bitter cold may be prevailing, but the North Central College football team is fired up to play in the school’s first Division III National Championship against University of Wisconsin Whitewater.
“Just live in the moment,” said junior receiver and Pingree Grove native Andrew Kamienski when asked what head coach Jeff Thorne’s message to the team was. “It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity, so everyone just take advantage of it and have fun.”
“I think our kids just believe and we’ve been so close for so long,” said head coach Jeff Thorne. “They believe in what we’re doing, they believe in each other, they trust each other. We’ve got this lofty goal that we’re going after together.”
The Cardinals are in the title game in large part because of their dynamic offense. In twelve of their fourteen games this season, they’ve scored more than 40 points. That includes the semifinals.
“I have the easy job,” said senior quarterback and Naperville native Broc Rutter. “ I have so many great players around me and the unsung heroes are the offensive linemen. They do so good. They’ve done such a great job all year and they give all of us skill players time and make our jobs really easy on us.”
The cardinals are reminded every day by a sign outside the school that has 38 National Championships, but none in football.
“We’ve had a chip on our shoulder as a football program,” said Rutter. “We feel like we’ve had the talent and we just want to do something that the football program has never done before.”
“It would mean everything,” said Kamienski. “That’s why you play the game. That’s why we’re here, that’s what we want to do since we came here. We want to bring the first one back and hopefully we can run off a stream of runs and get more than one.”
Coach Throne said the team’s motto has been “fight one more round” and one more round is all they have left.
You can watch North Central College try to win their first National Championship against UW-Whitewater on ESPNU on Friday at 7 p.m.