November 9, 2011

A rivalry like no other

Luke Sweeney leads Division III in rushing yards and gives his Pomona-Pitzer team a chance against archrival Claremont-Mudd-Scripps.
P-P athletics photo

One day you're eating lunch next to the same person you're going to give a bone-chilling hit to the next day. That's what the teams consisting of Pomona-Pitzer and Claremont-Mudd-Scripps experience once a year in the battle for the Peace Pipe trophy.

"You're studying with them on Friday and trying to knock each other over on Saturday, that makes it a little different," Pomona-Pitzer coach Roger Caron said.

The five individual schools are divided into two athletic teams for NCAA sanctioned athletics and the schools comprise of one team for club sports. CMS senior linebacker Matt Laredo plays club lacrosse with some of the Pomona-Pitzer players. But Saturday will be certainly a different atmosphere for sure.

"You want to end your career with a win over your rival," Laredo said. "And not only is it a rival but your best friend is across the street."

The picturesque campuses for Claremont McKenna, Harvey Mudd, Pitzer, Pomona and Scripps Colleges overlap in Claremont, Calif., outside of Los Angeles. (Scripps is women only.) The two football stadiums are about three blocks apart.

The last four Peace Pipes have belonged to the Stags, which has gotten the privilege to eat brunch in the opposing team's lunch room.

"The last three years we've finished in Ponoma's facility and sat there with a smile on our faces," Laredo said.

Last year's game was a 31-30 overtime thriller.

The Stags (3-5) and Sagehens (0-8) are playing for the Peace Pipe with no playoff implications, just tremendous pride.

"Each team will play as hard as possible to get that win," Caron said. "It would make a somewhat difficult season certainly seem better."

Stags coach Kyle Sweeney, in his first season, agreed.

"It is our Super Bowl," Sweeney said. "This is another chance to win, it's senior day and homecoming for us. There will be a good crowd. It's an exciting time to be at a football game."

One of the biggest bright spots for the Sagehens has been running back Luke Sweeney, who leads all Division III runners with 182.4 yards per game. Sweeney has 1,277 yards on 258 carries and nine touchdowns.

"The main thing is he's been healthier and has bounced back," Caron said. "He just plays hard, he gives his effort, he tries to score every time he has the ball. He's had a good year."

And both teams hope to be celebrating until the next Peace Pipe game is played.

"It's definitely the whole year, you still hold the Peace Pipe," Laredo said. "We've won it for last three, they don't even know what it looks like. They've seen pictures, but don't know what it looks like."

Redlands looks to win, have a chance at playoffs

Last season Redlands closed the year with a 8-1 record, but was shut out of the playoffs. With a win at Chapman Saturday, the Bulldogs will repeat with a 8-1 record, its only blemish is a 28-24 loss to Cal Lutheran. The Bulldogs hope the results of a near-perfect season bring better benefits this time.

"We kind of know the deal in terms our conference has not had a lot success nationally," Redlands coach Mike Maynard said. "I've been on the national committee and knew our strength of schedule wasn't what they were looking for, so we sort of knew what was going happen. We needed to improve our schedule. Hopefully our strength of schedule will provide more for us if we're to be successful this week."

The Bulldogs have a huge win on their resume as they topped sixth-ranked North Central 35-29 in a non-conference clash to open the season. The previous two years, Redlands lost games in Week 11 to finish 7-2 and make an at-large bid an impossibility.

"We want to be to try as be ready as we can if we get the opportunity," Maynard said. "There are a lot of good football teams out there that are exceptionally well coached. We don't have an attitude that we deserve to be in the playoffs, (but) that if we're selected we're ready, if we have the opportunity, we want to be at our best."

But the discussion ends with a loss to Chapman.

 "We want to go this week and play well and hopefully have a chance to take step on our goal ladder," Maynard said. "I think they'll be highly motrivated for this week. It's if we win, we have a chance. We know if we win, someone at some level will say 'What about Redlands?' We're excited to be relevant and have a chance."

Lewis and Clark, Linfield to battle for NWC title

Linfield is no stranger to winning the Northwest Conference as it has at least clinched a share of the crown for three straight years, not to mention many other titles previously. However. Lewis and Clark stands in its way. The surprise Pios are trying to gain a piece of the crown and earn a trip to playoffs as an automatic qualifier.

"It's a good thing to be able to play for something at the end of the year," Lewis and Clark coach Chris Sulages said. "This is a nice feeling for our guys."

Linfield coach Joe Smith said the Pios are a worthy competitor.

"They've got a lot of speed on offense, we'll have to compete with that," Smith said. "Their quarterback (Keith Welch) is pretty darn good."

Welch is the Pios' leader with 1,983 yards passing and 14 touchdowns against just three interceptions. He also adds a significant attack with his legs as well as he has rushed for 691 yards on 142 carries and has scored 15 touchdowns. Shawn Evans is the leading receiver with 50 catches for 585 yards and five touchdowns.

Linfield (8-0) is led by quarterback Mickey Inns, who has thrown for 2,010 yards, 21 touchdowns and just five interceptions. The Wildcats' leading rusher is Josh Hill, who has rushed for 620 yards and has scored seven times. Deidre Wiersma is the leading receiver with 36 catches for 575 yards and two touchdowns. Lucas Jepson adds 26 catches for 520 yards and eight touchdowns.

"They're just solid everywhere," Sulages said. "Every position you go through they're just solid everywhere. We have to go in and play good and be on top it. If we go in make mistakes we're going to be in trouble, They're too good of a team."

Lewis and Clark fell to Willamette last week for its first loss and stands at 7-1 - its first winning season since 1995 and first chance to win a share of the conference since 1991, when they shared with Linfield.

"We're not that surprised," Sulages said about the team's performance. "We're glad to be in position to be in this game. We feel like we have nothing to lose and we're going to have some fun on Saturday."

Behind the number

31

Years since Dubuque last won a conference title. The Spartans claimed the IIAC crown by topping Coe 49-42.

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Josh Smith photo

Josh Smith covers high school and Division III athletics for the Daily Jefferson County Union in Fort Atkinson, Wis. He has won multiple awards for reporting and photography and contributes to multiple publications in addition to his duties at the Daily Union, including D3football.com beginning in 2012. He graduated from UW-Whitewater with a degree in print journalism.

2011-12 columns: Jason Galleske
2010: Tim Walsh
2003-09: Adam Johnson
1999-2000: Don Stoner 

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