At halftime of the North Central College men’s basketball game against Elmhurst University, the Cardinals honored the 2022 Division III National Championship football team. Dozens of players and coaches took the court in front of hundreds of fans ready to celebrate the second National Championship in program history.
North Central football ready to raise another banner
North Central defeated Mt. Union by a 28-21 score to win the 2022 Division III title in Annapolis, MD. The players and coaches have enjoyed sharing the special acheivment with the NCC community.
“It’s definitely something I’ll never forget. To be able to go 15 weeks without losing a game, it’s something special,” said senior defensive end Dan Gilroy. “I’m so glad that we’re able to be here and be National champs.”
“People have been congratulating me and other guys on the team a lot. I mean, just seeing professors even, that have been invested in our season,” said sophomore quarterback Luke Lehnen. “So many congrats and how impressed they were with us this year and how proud of us they are and how much they really love coming to our games. And they’re really happy for us and stuff like that. So it’s nice to come back to campus and hear those things.”
Players and coaches are enjoying the ride with an eye on 2023
“I’m still just still super excited for our staff and our players and, you know, on the one hand we’re looking ahead to 2023, but on the other hand, just to unveil to celebrate all the great things that we accomplished,” said first year head coach Brad Spencer. “And it’s a great senior group. So to be able to celebrate them, to be able to, you know, take what they did and help our younger guys learn what they did and be able to do it again is going to be the challenge this year.”
“It’s pretty surreal. Not very many people get to experience that kind of thing. And I mean, I’m just happy that got the nice getting back on campus, seeing all the guys again. Took a break from each other over winter break. But being able to get back in the weight room together and we’re working towards another national championship. So it’s been pretty good so far,” said Lehnen.
“You know, it’s awesome to be able to to go out on top. You know, it’s it’s a hard thing to do to be able to end your career as a winner. And, you know, just with the guys that we were with means, it means so much more to me than anything else,” added Gilroy.
“You know, that’s what our program’s about. It’s about relationships. It’s about loving each other,” explained Spencer, a 2004 North Central grad. “And when you have that and you get to see the people in your program accomplish what they want to accomplish, as a head coach and I think all of our coaches would agree, you just really joyful for them and really happy that they were in that spot and that they were able to capitalize on it.”
“It’s awesome having the support from the entire community. You know, it doesn’t matter if it’s football, basketball, baseball, the community of Naperville always shows out and always supports whatever team is playing. I know we’re super appreciative of it, just like I’m sure the basketball team is and the baseball team as well,” said Gilroy.