Cole Jirik Shines in Quarterfinal Playoff Win

Cole Jirik, a 6-foot-5, 210-pound defensive end for Northfield, did everything but sell popcorn as he led the Raiders to the Class AAAA semifinals with a 21-13 win over Mahtomedi. Jirik, who is one of Minnesota's top defensive players, has attended several Gophers games this year and the coaches have asked Jirik about walking-on. GoldenSports.Net caught up with Jirik Friday to learn the latest.

Cole Jirik has helped lead the Raiders to a 9-3 mark, winning their last eight games after starting the year 1-3. Jirik said that the slow start has made their strong play down the stretch even better.

"Definitely. We had a lot of new players coming in this season," he said. "We struggled in the beginning, but we have come on strong. We have won eight in a row. We are playing well as a team."

Jirik caught a touchdown from his tight end position to put the Raiders up 21-0. He blocked an important extra point when Mahtomedi cut the lead to 21-13 and had a big hit on quarterback Mike McDonald on the Zephyrs' final drive.

"I was just trying to make plays for the team. Finding the ball is the goal," he said.

Jirik has two scholarship offers to date from Western Michigan and North Dakota State. He is getting interest from Air Force and Buffalo, and Minnesota wants him as a preferred walk-on. Jirik says that he is focused on his season right now.

"I have just taken it easy. I'm just focusing on the state tournament," he said. "The first goal is to win state and worry about the recruiting later."

Jirik led the Raiders to a 4-5 mark as a junior and he was named second-team Associated Press All-State. He finished with 68 tackles and led the state with 16 sacks. Jirik has added two fumble recoveries and a blocked field goal.

"We are playing well as a team," he said.

Jirik caught a touchdown from his tight end position to put the Raiders up 21-0. He blocked an important extra point when Mahtomedi cut the lead to 21-13 and had a big hit on quarterback Mike McDonald on the Zephyrs' final drive.

"I was just trying to make plays for the team. Finding the ball is the goal," he said.


Jirik previously told GoldenSports.Net that he has gotten good feedback from the Gopher coaches.

"They like my size and stuff and they like my speed," he said. "They have a lot of players and they are not taking many at my position, so it will be tough, but we'll see what happens."

Jirik attended the Minnesota spring practice and was at several Minnesota home games this past season. He attended the Minnesota, Northern Iowa and Northern Illinois junior days and went to the Northern Iowa spring game.

Jirik visited North Dakota State in the spring and attended nine football camps this summer.

Jirik is a three-sport athlete, playing hockey and summer baseball. He helped lead his VFW baseball team's trip to state in 2007.


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