NAPERVILLE – So that’s what winning is like.
It took a little while, but John Cannova now knows what it’s like to be part of a winning football team.
After being part of football teams that won a combined nine games from 2008-10, he has been part of a North Central College team that has won 19 games the past two seasons.
“It’s been amazing,” Cannova said. “Coming from not having a lot of success in high school to being part of great team with great coaches, it’s been great to be part of a winning football team.”
In his two years on the varsity team at Benet in 2008 and 2009, the Redwings went 2-7 and 3-6, respectively. He was on the team at Butler University in 2010 and the Bulldogs went 4-7, but since coming to North Central, he has known nothing but the success of two College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin titles and two playoff appearances.
Starting on the offensive line the past two seasons, Cannova has been working hard this summer with the intention of keeping the Cardinals’ run of success going this fall.
“We’re working out and running,” Cannova said of himself and his teammates. “We’re working hard. To be a successful team, you’ve got to put in the time in the offseason to make sure every component is working for you.”
In a league as competitive as the CCIW, staying on top of the pile isn’t easy. The same secret to NCC’s success – talented players, long-tenured coaches, strong leadership – are the same traits many of the other schools possess.
“There’s a lot of great players in the CCIW,” Cannova said. “Week in and week out, you’re facing a good opponent. There are no off-weeks in our conference.”
Going into this season, Cannova said the offensive line should be a strength and not only because he plays on that unit. He said that four starters return from a unit that helped the offense rank 25th in the country in NCAA Division III in 2012 by scoring 37 points per game.
Based on the Cardinals’ returning players and their recent standard of success, D3football.com ranked North Central No. 6 in its preseason Top 25. It’s a nice honor, and one to which Cannova and his teammates pay little or no attention. It’s not preseason accolades they’re going for; it’s postseason prestige that matters most.
“We pride ourselves on competing week in and week out,” Cannova said. “We don’t read much into the rankings because they don’t mean a lot. We have the same end goal every year and that’s to finish on top. It doesn’t matter where you are at the beginning of the season because we know we can’t have an off-week during the season and the rankings won’t mean anything.”