As disappointed as the North Central College players were Saturday afternoon, they have a lot to be optimistic about.
The second-ranked Cardinals (11-1) lost 38-28 to Franklin College in the second round of the NCAA Division III playoffs Saturday, marking the third time they've failed to reach the national quarterfinals in as many tries.
But as running back Dominic Sulo pointed out postgame, the Cardinals' recent run of success isn't likely to end too soon.
"I think there is lots of optimism for next year," said Sulo, one of three juniors who are co-captains. "We know who we have coming back and we're a confident group. I think we're ready to step it up even more now. There's only room to improve."
NCC had only six seniors -- three on offense, three on defense -- listed as starters on their depth chart for Saturday's game.