December 8, 2011

Once more, with feeling

More news about: Mount Union | Wesley

By Jason Galleske
D3sports.com

Shane McSweeny has passed for 31 touchdowns and run for 12 more.

In 13 games this season, Shane McSweeny has passed for 31 touchdowns and run for 12 more.
Wesley athletics phot

Shane McSweeny's mind kept going back to one thought while preparing for his final season at Wesley.

"Every time I was working out, I was thinking about national championship," said the senior quarterback. "You play for this big achievement. It's right here knocking on the door and we got to get finally over this hump."

For the third consecutive season, Wesley is one game away from making it to Salem. Standing in its way is 10-time national champion Mount Union, which has made the Stagg Bowl the past six seasons, including via a 24-7 semifinal win over the Wolverines in 2009. The two will battle again in Alliance, Ohio, Saturday at noon.

"We talked at practice Monday night, there are four teams in the country practicing and we're one of them," Drass said. "Let's enjoy this experience, let's leave it on the field. For our seniors this is it. There's a certain finality. You don't want to play that last game, but it's sure a lot sweeter if it's in the national championship."

Wesley made it to the semifinals by holding off Mary Hardin-Baylor, 27-24, last Saturday in Belton, Tex. A key factor in the game was the Wolverines' first drive: a 17-play drive that ate up over nine minutes of clock. McSweeny capped the drive with a 15-yard touchdown pass to 6-foot-4 tight end Sean McAndrew.

"If we were going to be able to stand toe to toe with them, that drive answered the question," Drass said. "Their defense is outstanding from top to bottom. We've only seen one better and we'll see them Saturday."

Wesley also staved off a late-charging Crusaders team that cut a 27-10 deficit to three with 5:43 left in the fourth quarter.

"It didn't surprise me that they battled back, they have that type of talent," Drass said.

Now the Purple Raiders await.

In the 2009 semifinal matchup, Mount Union led Wesley, 10-7, early in the fourth quarter before pulling away with two back-breaking touchdowns authored by Cecil Shorts III - who is now playing for the Jacksonville Jaguars.

"They put the game in his hands and he really responded well," Drass said. "Mount Union has been a perennial power, we're excited to play them and do whatever we can to advance."

Getting to the Stagg Bowl for the first time would be unprecedented, but the Wolverines are dedicating the season to a different cause. On Oct. 21, Ben Knapp, offensive coordinator Chip Knapp's 16-year-old son, suffered cardiac arrest while sleeping. Knapp was placed into an induced coma and ended up at Children's Hospital in Pittsburgh.

The team was on their way to play Walsh Univeristy in Canton, Ohio. The Wolverines dedicated that game to Ben and gave him a team football in his hospital room. Wesley now is dedicating the season to someone that is an extended part of Wolverines family.

"When we're talking to the team, we treat football like its life and death," Drass said. "When you go though situation like this is just a cold slap in the face, football is just a game that we love, it's not life and death."

Ben is making progress and is currently in Wilmington, Del., an hour away from campus.

"He's doing a little better," Chip Knapp said. "He left the ICU and is now in the rehab unit. He gets intense therapy, speech therapy and the care he needs to get to bring him back and see how far he can come."

The elder Knapp said he has been floored by the outpouring of support.

"The support it's been overwhelming from people everywhere," Chip said. "The starting right tackle at Mount Union sent Ben a e-card, the Mary Hardin-Baylor SID sent a hand-written letter. Just the fact that people have kept him in their thoughts and prayers."

Especially his players.

McAndrew and McSweeny have visited Ben, who served as team videographer. 

Since Ben Knapp's incident, Wesley players have been more inspired, saying they're playing for something more than the game.

 

"It kind of hit home," McAndrew said. "We both have younger brothers, we kind of look at them like that and it was a real scary situation. You've got to put all personal agendas aside, you've got to worry about winning and giving something positive. We dedicated all wins to Ben and the Knapp family and it definitely gave him something positive. Every time we break down at practice or a game, (we chant) 'Ben Knapp'. We have prayers daily, he's always in our thoughts and prayers."

The Drass and Knapp families have been together since 1989, when the two joined the staff as rookie assistants.

"Ben's been a part of my life since he's been born," Drass said. "I've known Chip since 1989, we used watch Stagg Bowls together in early 90s. We were watching those games and dreaming about it being us."

The two, along with the Wesley family, have a chance to make it real Saturday.

Sep. 1: All times Eastern
7:00 PM
Coast Guard at Anna Maria
7:00 PM
Defiance at Baldwin Wallace
Live Stats
7:00 PM
Washington and Lee at Johns Hopkins
7:30 PM
Trine at Manchester
Live Stats
8:00 PM
Millsaps at Belhaven
Sep. 2: All times Eastern
6:00 PM
Mass-Dartmouth at Mount Ida
6:00 PM
Delaware Valley at Wesley
7:00 PM
Muhlenberg at Wilkes
7:00 PM
N.C. Wesleyan at Stevenson
7:00 PM
Western New England at Springfield
Video Live Stats
7:00 PM
Fitchburg State at Becker
Video Live Stats
7:00 PM
Albright at Salisbury
7:00 PM
WPI at MIT
Live Stats
7:00 PM
Salve Regina at Worcester State
7:00 PM
Bridgewater State at Curry
7:00 PM
Morrisville State at St. Lawrence
10:00 PM
Adrian at Pacific
Sep. 3: All times Eastern
12:00 PM
Endicott at Framingham State
Live Stats
12:00 PM
Washington U. at Carnegie Mellon
Live Stats
12:00 PM
Chicago at Case Western Reserve
12:00 PM
Husson at Alfred
12:00 PM
SUNY-Maritime at Maine Maritime
Video
12:00 PM
Cortland at Heidelberg
12:00 PM
Otterbein at Buffalo State
12:00 PM
Ursinus at Bethany
12:00 PM
Sewanee at Kenyon
1:00 PM
King's at Moravian
Live Stats
1:00 PM
Kean at Christopher Newport
1:00 PM
McDaniel at Catholic
Live Stats
1:00 PM
Lebanon Valley at Franklin and Marshall
1:00 PM
Plymouth State at Castleton
Live Stats
1:00 PM
RPI at Norwich
1:00 PM
Randolph-Macon at Dickinson
1:00 PM
Oberlin at Kalamazoo
1:00 PM
Emory and Henry at Ferrum
1:00 PM
Wooster at Washington and Jefferson
1:00 PM
Alfred State at William Paterson
1:00 PM
St. Vincent at Alma
Live Stats
1:00 PM
Concordia (Wis.) at Finlandia
1:00 PM
Olivet at St. John Fisher
1:00 PM
Rowan at Widener
1:00 PM
Hobart at Brockport
1:00 PM
Union at Ithaca
1:00 PM
Susquehanna at Lycoming
1:00 PM
Utica at Misericordia
1:00 PM
The Apprentice School at Methodist
1:00 PM
TCNJ at UW-Whitewater
1:30 PM
Wilmington at Bluffton
1:30 PM
Monmouth at Hope
1:30 PM
Bridgewater at Gettysburg
1:30 PM
Muskingum at Waynesburg
1:30 PM
Juniata at Grove City
2:00 PM
Wisconsin Lutheran at Trinity Int'l
2:00 PM
Lakeland at Carroll
Video Live Stats
2:00 PM
UW-Stevens Point at St. Norbert
2:00 PM
Austin at Hendrix
2:00 PM
Maranatha Baptist at Martin Luther
Live Stats
2:00 PM
Millikin at Greenville
Live Stats
2:00 PM
Eureka at Knox
Live Stats
2:00 PM
MacMurray at Rockford
2:00 PM
Gustavus Adolphus at Westminster (Mo.)
Video Live Stats
2:00 PM
UW-La Crosse at Luther
2:00 PM
Beloit at Lake Forest
2:00 PM
Concordia-Moorhead at Jamestown
2:00 PM
Crown at Hamline
Live Stats
2:00 PM
Carleton at Macalester
2:00 PM
Bethel at Dubuque
2:00 PM
St. Scholastica at St. John's
Live Stats
2:00 PM
St. Olaf at Grinnell
2:00 PM
Buena Vista at Mayville St.
2:00 PM
Simpson at UW-Stout
2:00 PM
Aurora at Carthage
2:00 PM
UW-River Falls at Coe
2:00 PM
Ripon at Concordia-Chicago
2:00 PM
Elmhurst at Loras
2:00 PM
Huntingdon at Louisiana College
2:00 PM
North Central (Ill.) at Robert Morris-Chicago
2:00 PM
Benedictine at Wheaton (Ill.)
2:00 PM
John Carroll at UW-Oshkosh
2:30 PM
Southern Virginia at Earlham
Live Stats
2:30 PM
Lawrence at Presentation
4:00 PM
UW-Platteville at George Fox
4:00 PM
La Verne at Puget Sound
Video Live Stats
4:00 PM
Central at Whitworth
5:00 PM
Hartwick at Western Connecticut
Live Stats
6:00 PM
Wabash at Albion
6:00 PM
Maryville (Tenn.) at Berry
6:00 PM
Augustana at Mount St. Joseph
6:00 PM
Thomas More at Franklin
Live Stats
6:00 PM
Hampden-Sydney at Averett
7:00 PM
Denison at Marietta
7:00 PM
Hiram at Westminster (Pa.)
7:00 PM
Thiel at Allegheny
7:00 PM
Capital at Wittenberg
Live Stats
7:00 PM
Shenandoah at Gallaudet
Live Stats
7:00 PM
Illinois College at Rose-Hulman
Video Live Stats
7:00 PM
Geneva at Frostburg State
7:00 PM
Nichols at Westfield State
7:00 PM
Greensboro at Guilford
Live Stats
7:00 PM
LaGrange at Birmingham-Southern
7:00 PM
Hardin-Simmons at Southwestern
7:00 PM
Anderson at North Park
7:00 PM
Ohio Wesleyan at Mary Hardin-Baylor
7:00 PM
East Texas Baptist at Texas Lutheran
7:10 PM
St. Thomas at UW-Eau Claire
Video Live Stats
7:30 PM
Hanover at Centre
8:00 PM
Willamette at Rhodes
8:00 PM
Cornell at Iowa Wesleyan
Live Stats
8:00 PM
Augsburg at Northwestern (Minn.)
Live Stats
8:00 PM
Southwestern Assemblies at Howard Payne
8:00 PM
Sul Ross State at UT-Permian Basin
8:30 PM
Redlands at Trinity (Texas)
Dec. 18: All times Eastern
Final
Mount Union 49, at St. Thomas 35
@ Salem, Va.
Box Score Recap Recap Photos