Cann caps outstanding career
Lehighton graduate Tyle Cann was a first team PAC selection at linebacker playing for Geneva College the last two seasons. PHOTO COURTESY GENEVA COLLEGE
Tyler Cann always dreamed about playing college football.
But Geneva College wasn’t exactly the place where he always dreamed about playing — the Lehighton High School graduate didn’t even know where the school was located when he began the recruiting process.
But the Division 3 school in Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania quickly made an impression.
Veteran Geneva head coach Geno DeMarco and his staff caught wind about Cann’s talents as a four-year starter at Lehighton and made a pitch to get the talented two-way standout to visit the campus.
Cann loved the visit, and the rest is history.
Three weeks ago, Cann and his fellow Golden Tornadoes walked off the field filled with emotions after a 28-25 setback to rival Westminster College. It was the final game of an outstanding career for Cann, who capped it with his second straight First Team All-Presidents Athletic Conference (PAC) selection.
“I was nervous coming in my freshman year,” Cann said. “I didn’t really know where Geneva was – really. I didn’t really hear of Geneva before. But I ended up getting recruited by them, and when I came here, I just loved it.
“I love the style of football that they play. The kind of old-school run the football, stop-the-run style of football we play here at Geneva. I can’t say enough about Geneva and what the coaches did for me, especially Coach DeMarco.”
This past season, the 5-10, 210-pounder manned the linebacker position on the Golden Tornadoes’ Presidents Athletic Conference-leading rushing defense that gave up less than 100 yards per game in conference play. Cann led the Golden Tornadoes with 84 tackles, which was 5th in the PAC. He added a team-leading 14 tackles for loss, which was also fifth in the conference. In addition, he finished with two sacks, two interceptions and one fumble recovery.
“When Tyler came in, we knew he was a really good football player,” said DeMarco, who was in his 28th season with the Golden Tornadoes this year. “I mean, with what he did in high school ... It basically was his work ethic and his attitude, and just the passion he had for football.
“Too often, you see young men out there playing the game, and they just don’t have the passion to play it. This kid absolutely loves football. He understands work ethic. He’s just relentless, and it’s refreshing to see that. It sounds cliché-ish, or simplistic, but this kid is a throwback.”
Cann’s throwback style even extended to his hair, as he wore a mullet during his time at Geneva
But it wasn’t only Cann’s commitment to football that impressed DeMarco, but also how he handled himself off the field.
“Not only did Tyler have a passion for football that stood out, but he has a passion for people and education, too,” said DeMarco about Cann’s Elementary Education/Special Education major. “He loves what he’s doing. He’s found his calling in life, and I believe he will excel at it. He’s a kid that really looks at life through the eyes of serving and having a purpose to impact others.
“Any school district that hires him will improve the day that Tyler Cann is hired as a teacher/coach. There’s no doubt in (my) mind. Right now, I wish some superintendent back in the area would call me and ask me about him. I would say, ‘Hire him before the district next to you gets him, because this kid is special. He’s really special.’”
It wasn’t just what DeMarco saw from Cann on the football field that makes him think he will be a success in the future.
“It’s not just because he was a great player; it was the way he conducted himself. The way he upheld his family name. The way he served his Lord. The way he encouraged his teammates.
“I love the fact that he had a throwback mullet for four years. That was just outstanding. And, the thing that broke my heart – the Monday after the season ended, he cut it all off, which made the realization set in that he’s moving on to professional life now and won’t be part of our program any more.”
Despite all the success that Cann and the Geneva defense enjoyed this season, the team finished with just a 3-7 record. But that didn’t dampen Cann’s pride in the program.
“Obviously, we didn’t want to end our year 3-7,” he said. “But, if you look at the schedule, and look at our games, there were only two where we weren’t in it. We were in just about every game in the fourth quarter, but just came up a little short. We fought our guts out every Saturday.
“There’s not much more I could ask of my teammates. We didn’t win as many games as I would have liked, but nothing could replace the relationships that I made over my last four years at Geneva.”