North Central College to defend title in Division III football championship game Friday

Diane Pathieu Image
Friday, December 17, 2021
North Central College set for Division III title game
Naperville's North Central College's football team takes on Mary Hardin-Baylor in the NCAA Division 3 title game in Canton, Ohio Friday.

NAPERVILLE, Ill. (WLS) -- It's a football Friday for North Central College in Naperville as fans head for the Division III football title game in Canton, Ohio Friday.

North Central College football players went through a final practice Tuesday before hitting the road to their last game of the season: defending their Division III national championship title.

The team won their championship in 2019, and with no season last year the players have an extra year of eligibility and an opportunity to win back-to-back titles.

North Central College held a pep rally for fans as they left Friday morning to be in Canton to cheer on the team. The North Central Marching Band, Cheer and Dance teams performed for the send-off.

It's a big moment for the group.

"We're really excited," said Sean Kelley, band director. "Anytime we get to spotlight North Central on a national scale, we're all really excited to do it."

The North Central College football team is undefeated this season, and now, they've advanced to the NCAA Division III championship game.

The football team arrived earlier this week and now the rest of their support system is on their way and they are ready. And it is a lot of pressure.

"It's just so exciting to be here," said junior Claire Mikulcik. "The band has so much energy that it's just fun. They are all such wonderful, wonderful people. It's just a joy to be around so it doesn't feel like so much pressure because you have the support of everyone behind you."

The team won their championship in 2019, and with no season last year, this year is extra special.

"It still feels like the first time we're doing this, but it also feels so nice to be doing it again ,especially doing something at halftime, so it's another reason to be there. Doing that at the Hall of Fame stadium is going to be amazing," said junior Jack Armstrong.

Celebrations are not just happening at the school. The Downtown Naperville Alliance is hosting Cardinal watch parties at several Naperville bars and restaurants.

North Central's game against Mary Hardin-Baylor kicks off at 6 p.m.