NAPERVILLE – Ahead of the 2013 season, the North Central College football team was recently ranked No. 6 in the nation, according to the annual preseason Top-25 poll conducted by D3football.com.
The Cardinals, who were ranked seventh in the final D3football.com poll of the 2012 campaign, received 430 points in the initial voting in the poll, which will be released weekly throughout the season. Defending D-III champ Mount Union (Ohio) and runner-up University of St. Thomas (Minnesota) took the top two spots in the poll.
North Central is one of three College Conference of Illinois & Wisconsin (CCIW) teams ranked in the top 25, as Wheaton College (No. 15) and Elmhurst (No. 22) also made the cut.
The Cardinals went 9-3 last season and won a share of their seventh consecutive CCIW crown with a 6-1 mark. They return 16 starters, including Shane Dierking (Wheaton/Wheaton Warrenville South), one of four returning All-North Region selections from last season.
Dierking is just one of several local players on the roster. Nick Boesso (Glen Ellyn/Glenbard South), Jason Callahan (Lombard/Glenbard East), John Cannova (Wheaton/Benet Academy), Connor Douglas (Lombard/Glenbard South), Chris James (Bolingbrook/Bolingbrook High School), Ryan Kent (Elmhurst/York), Marco Medina (Bensenville/IC Catholic Prep) Alex Pirela (West Chicago/West Chicago High School), Nick Slezak (Warrenville/Glenbard South), David Walsh (Lombard/Glenbard East) are other local products on the team.
North Central opens the 2013 season on Sept. 14 at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse. The Cardinals' first home game is Sept. 21 against the University of Wisconsin-Stout.