Brad Spencer on the Cardinals Clobbering the Big Blue
North Central head coach Brad Spencer and his Cardinals football team delivered another typically excellent performance against Millikin, winning 65-0 and setting records in both rushing yards and total offense in the victory. While it may sound like a momentous occasion, for Spencer it was simply a product of good execution.
“If we can do that every week we’re going to be in a good position, but we certainly wanted to establish the run game, and on defense stop the run game,” Spencer said of Saturday’s gameplan. “When you can control the football, that’s the recipe to winning games once we start to get a little bit colder when it’s snowing or raining. Fortunately, where we’re at as a team right now both sides of the football are able to do that. Really proud of the guys, we had some new guys step into roles on the perimeter on both offense and defense and the guys did a really nice job on Saturday.”
In addition to the well-documented talents of North Central’s running backs, much of the credit for the Cardinals rushing attack of course is also due to the offense line, who had perhaps their most dominant performance yet this season as a group.
“Extremely high,” Spencer said of the offensive line’s level of play. “They’re getting on people, blocking people, the running backs are running hard and certainly having a quarterback who’s the fastest guy on the field most games helps. They’re really buying in to being our best each week, getting one-percent better each week, and we head into this next game like we’re prepared, ready to go. Each week for us is a conference championship game so we feel like we’re ready.”
Elsewhere on the offense, the absences of DeAngelo Hardy, Peter Braithwaite and Joey Lombardi placed significant responsibility on Jacob Paradee, who more than met the moment with three receiving touchdowns.
“He stepped in and did a great job,” Spencer said of the sophomore receiver. “He’s been playing his best football the past couple of weeks, really starting with that Wheaton College game. Then with three receivers down this past week against Millikin he was able to step in and he did it in the run game and the pass game. We really ask a lot of our receivers to block and he’s been an example of that for the past couple of weeks.”
On the other side of the ball, the defensive front had an equally impressive performance with a season high six sacks, including three for junior defensive tackle Dan Lester who continues to have a standout season.
“Yeah they’re doing phenomenal,” said Spencer. “Danny is having a great year. He’s a wonderful football player and even better young man and he’s going to get CCIW Player of the Week this week on defense, and deservedly so. Three sacks, half of our six, and then the linebackers again with Zack Orr getting an interception at the nickel position this week. I’m really proud of those guys. Angelo and DJ are better each and every week. They’re tough, they haven’t missed any practices or reps, and it’s paying off for them.”
For the second week in a row not only did the Cardinals keep a shutout, but zero on the scoreboard was sealed with a late interception by a second-team player, this time sophomore defense back Jahron Williams.
“It says a lot, and we saw it on both sides of the ball,” Spencer said of the backup. “With some players down, we preach every single week that the standard is the standard and have a next guy up mentality. Talking about Jahron, he did a great job. He actually switched from corner to safety, part of it was just wanting to get some skill and talent out of him and get him on the field but also out of necessity. And we saw him, yep, save that shutout which was great.”
CCIW Title Decider vs WashU
This week the Cardinals meet their toughest remaining test of the regular season in Washington University, who are also 6-0 on the season and undefeated in CCIW play. While it will be a very different game in terms of the level of competition, Spencer hopes his players prepare every week as if the game ahead is of utmost importance.
“I’d like to think they’d treat it the same way, you’d have to ask them,” Spencer said of his players’ mindsets. “Certainly in our meeting rooms and offices we treat every week the same. But our guys will be locked in, they know what we’re walking into. It was a similar situation last year Week 9 going down there for a conference championship. We still have three weeks after this, but we’ll be ready to go and I’m sure they will too. They’re a really good football team, they’re posting some really big numbers on offense. And then on defense they’re solid, they’re gonna make you work, they’re not gonna give up the big play, they’ll be in the right spot, they’re smart football players, they’re well coached in all three phases. So we have a lot of respect for them, but we’re really excited.”
As far as what they particularly do well, he described a team that’s well rounded in much the same way as his own, setting up what could be the most exciting game for the Cardinals yet this year.
“I would say their efficiency,” Spencer said of the biggest challenge the Bears will present. “They can run, they can pass, they don’t make mistakes, their quarterback does a nice job distributing the football and not making mistakes. Then on defense, they have some really good players out there and you can tell that they’ve done a great job recruiting since they came into our conference. Their coaches have their guys ready to go and they’re playing at a high level.”