Football to play spoiler against Northern Illinois on Black Friday


Chippewas aim for fifth straight win and second place West Division finish


football

Football Head Coach John Bonamego walks towards reporters after football practice on Oct. 18 at Kelly/Shorts Stadium.

Not only will 23 seniors be playing in their final game for the Central Michigan football team at Kelly/Shorts Stadium against Northern Illinois, but they will also be playing for a mark they haven’t reached in their tenure — eight wins.

The last time the Chippewas (currently 7-4, 5-2 Mid-American Conference) recorded better than seven wins in a season was 2009, when CMU (12-2) won the MAC title game against Ohio, 20-10 and would go on to win the GMAC Bowl over Troy, 44-41.

For head coach John Bonamego, records and win streaks (CMU is currently on a four game winning streak) isn't something he has his players focus on.

“If we get caught up in all of those marks, then we forget what we are actually playing for,” Bonamego said. “We have our sights set on the next objective, which is Northern Illinois.”

The Huskies (8-5, 6-1) are still alive to win the MAC West Division with a win over CMU. But a Chippewas' win would give Toledo the division title. 

“If you can’t win (the MAC), there is nothing wrong with playing the spoiler role,” graduate transfer quarterback Shane Morris said. “We would like to get to nine wins because it’s been a long time since that has happened here."

Morris, who has the chance to throw for 3,000 yards this season (currently at 2,661), said it has been a work in progress for him this season, but felt he joined something “very special” at CMU.

“It starts with just playing, actually having a starting job,” Morris said. “I don’t have to look over my shoulder all the time and I have been the guy for the entire season. It’s fun to be able to come out here and actually play and I want to give these fans something to remember in my final game. Hopefully a win.”

Out of the 22 other seniors besides Morris to be honored, these players hold records heading into their final game:

Tyler Conklin - 11 touchdown receptions, the most of anyone whose played tight end at CMU.

Joe Ostman - Currently third in the nation with 11 sacks and third in program history with 25 in his career. 

Josh Cox - Leads the MAC with five interceptions on the season. 

Corey Willis - Tied with CMU great Antonio Brown for the third-most in program history with 22 career TD receptions. 

Willis, whose played in eight games and recorded eight touchdowns this season, said while he and the group of Chippewa seniors can’t accomplish every goal they set, they still have one more to reach.

“Those goals start with beating Western (Michigan) and Eastern (Michigan) and we did that,” Willis said. “While we can’t win the MAC title, we can still win a bowl game and that is something that would mean a lot to this group.”

These senior have competed in a bowl game in all four years, but have yet to win one. 

As far as the Huskies go, they come in with the MAC’s No. 1 ranked running attack and run stopping defense. Bonamego knows it won’t be easy to end the regular season with a victory.

“They have all the markings of a good football team,” Bonamego said. “We are going to have to find our own yards out there because they won’t give it to us. 

“We have a plan to counter what they throw at us, but drawing it up is a lot different from actually seeing it happen.” 

Kickoff is set for noon against NIU on Friday, Nov. 24, from Kelly/Shorts Stadium. The game will be aired on the CBS Sports Network.

The seniors will be honored before the start of the game. The captains for the contest are Ostman, Conklin and senior defensive back Amari Coleman.



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