December 17, 2011

Scaling the Mount

More news about: Mount Union | St. Thomas | UW-Whitewater | Wesley

By Keith McMillan
D3sports.com

SALEM, Va. -- It once seemed unthinkable that a program would knock the Purple Raiders off the mount.

Now that it’s happened, with UW-Whitewater winning Stagg Bowl XXXIX for its third straight championship, it’s also the flashpoint for every other Division III program on its way up. If Mount Union can be overcome, certainly some day so can the Warhawks.

Though the Warhawks’ bus hadn’t even pulled out of Salem Stadium by the time we started wondering who’d be in Salem next year, let’s be honest. UW-Whitewater gets to enjoy being champion. All the rest of us are envisioning the day we knock them off.

So coaches are making the high school rounds in recruiting. Players whose seasons have been over are running and hitting the weight room with designs on getting here. And though the goal isn’t realistic for everybody, it’s getting more and more believable that the purple powers’ streak can’t continue.

UW-Whitewater coach Lance Leipold and Mount Union’s Larry Kehres spent the week acknowledging the contributions of this year’s teams, and reminding the rest of us that there are fresh faces on each team who appreciate the chance to go to Salem for the first time. Players on both sides were hungry to take home the Walnut and Bronze, even though it was the seventh consecutive meeting for the Warhawks and Purple Raiders.

Few people on either side had been involved in all seven games. The feeling was new for some players, some fans and some of those who tuned in on TV for the first time.

Eventually, those experiencing their first taste of the Stagg Bowl will be wearing different jerseys.

That day is near. Though UW-Whitewater just played two close games in a 15-0 season, the 13-10 final against Mount Union, coupled with the Purple Raiders’ 28-21 win at home against Wesley the week before and the Wolverines’ 27-24 win at Mary Hardin-Baylor the week before that, remind us that the gap between the have-it-alls and the have-a-chances isn’t that great.

It’s a long road to Salem, and it’s not a mountain every D-III team can climb. But more than two can climb it.

We will see some fresh faces. But not seeing them isn’t nearly as boring as it’s made out to be.

Six of the seven Purple Raiders/Warhawks games were one-score games in the fourth quarter. Stagg Bowl 39 wasn’t filled with big plays or highlights, but there was a big-game buzz and prime-time, firework-filled atmosphere. Mount Union had the ball with a chance to drive for the tying field goal, and came up a few yards short on fourth down.

That gave the Warhawks the edge in the seven-game series, 4-3, and made it four out of five for UW-W. But none of Whitewater’s wins have been blowouts. Mount Union might well be kicking itself because it knows it’s capable of dethroning the champion.

The matchup hasn’t gotten boring for those who care enough to tune in. Some might claim disinterest as soon as the purple powers earn their Stagg Bowl spots, but Salem enjoys them, ESPN embraces them and they deliver exciting results each time.

Boring really doesn’t fit. It lacks variety, sure, but watching St. Thomas’s Glenn Caruso take in the atmosphere in Salem, seeing Franklin’s Mike Leonard in the stands, and hearing how Mike Drass is back on the recruiting trail for Wesley reminds me that as hard as Mount Union and UW-Whitewater work to get here, other D-III teams and coaches are working just as hard. Sometime soon they’re going reach that apex, the same way UW-Whitewater matched – and perhaps surpassed – the unparalled success Mount Union was having.

comments powered by Disqus
Sep. 5: All times Eastern
TBA
Anna Maria at Worcester State
TBA
McDaniel at Catholic
7:00 PM
Albright at Kean
7:00 PM
Widener at Rowan
7:00 PM
WPI at Curry
7:00 PM
Mass-Dartmouth at Mount Ida
7:00 PM
Salve Regina at Bridgewater State
7:30 PM
Trine at Manchester
Sep. 6: All times Eastern
TBA
RPI at Norwich
TBA
Plymouth State at Castleton State
TBA
Carnegie Mellon at Case Western Reserve
TBA
St. Lawrence at Coast Guard
TBA
Thomas More at Wesley
TBA
Rhodes at Austin
TBA
Arizona Christian at George Fox
12:00 PM
Dickinson at Hobart
12:00 PM
Holland College (PEI, Canada) at Maine Maritime
Video
12:00 PM
Otterbein at St. John Fisher
12:00 PM
Union at Ithaca
1:00 PM
Lebanon Valley at Franklin and Marshall
1:00 PM
Emory and Henry at Ferrum
1:00 PM
Washington and Lee at Averett
1:00 PM
Franklin at Illinois Wesleyan
1:00 PM
Hampden-Sydney at Wabash
1:00 PM
Rose-Hulman at Kalamazoo
Live Stats Video
1:00 PM
Wilmington at Olivet
1:00 PM
Adrian at Defiance
1:00 PM
King's at Moravian
1:00 PM
Alfred State at Morrisville State
1:00 PM
Randolph-Macon at Johns Hopkins
1:00 PM
Susquehanna at Lycoming
1:00 PM
Oberlin at Brockport State
1:00 PM
Utica at Misericordia
1:00 PM
Delaware Valley at Montclair State
1:00 PM
Southern Virginia at Methodist
1:00 PM
Ohio Wesleyan at Bluffton
1:00 PM
Marietta at Kenyon
1:00 PM
Merchant Marine at Apprentice
1:30 PM
Alma at Heidelberg
1:30 PM
Berry at Maryville (Tenn.)
1:30 PM
Bridgewater (Va.) at Gettysburg
1:30 PM
Muskingum at Waynesburg
1:30 PM
St. Vincent at John Carroll
1:30 PM
Mount Union at Bethany
1:30 PM
Juniata at Grove City
2:00 PM
Sewanee at DePauw
2:00 PM
Carleton at Macalester
2:00 PM
Albion at UW-Stevens Point
2:00 PM
UW-Platteville at Buena Vista
2:00 PM
UW-Eau Claire at St. Thomas
2:00 PM
Ohio Northern at Washington U.
Live Stats Video
2:00 PM
UW-River Falls at St. John's
2:00 PM
Crown at Gustavus Adolphus
2:00 PM
Concordia-Moorhead at Jamestown
2:00 PM
Simpson at Iowa Wesleyan
2:00 PM
Hope at Monmouth
2:00 PM
Lawrence at Rockford
2:00 PM
Aurora at Illinois College
2:00 PM
Carroll at Lakeland
2:00 PM
Elmhurst at Loras
2:00 PM
Millikin at Greenville
2:00 PM
Coe at Wheaton (Ill.)
2:00 PM
Central at Benedictine
2:00 PM
Presentation at Luther
2:00 PM
Martin Luther at Maranatha Baptist
2:00 PM
MacMurray at Culver-Stockton
2:00 PM
Eureka at Knox
2:00 PM
UW-Stout at Dakota Wesleyan
2:00 PM
Huntingdon at Louisiana College
3:00 PM
St. Norbert at Carthage
4:00 PM
Claremont-Mudd-Scripps at Puget Sound
4:00 PM
Pomona-Pitzer at MIT
4:00 PM
Lewis and Clark at Whitworth
5:00 PM
Hartwick at Western Connecticut
6:00 PM
Salisbury at Christopher Newport
7:00 PM
Stevenson at N.C. Wesleyan
7:00 PM
Butler at Wittenberg
Live Stats Video
7:00 PM
Shenandoah at Gallaudet
Audio
7:00 PM
Wooster at Washington and Jefferson
7:00 PM
Greensboro at Guilford
7:00 PM
Geneva at Frostburg State
7:00 PM
Thiel at Allegheny
7:00 PM
Concordia (Wis.) at North Park
7:00 PM
Beloit at Chicago
Live Stats
7:00 PM
LaGrange at Birmingham-Southern
7:00 PM
Howard Payne at Trinity (Texas)
7:00 PM
Mary Hardin-Baylor at Millsaps
7:00 PM
Sul Ross State at Texas Lutheran
7:00 PM
Robert Morris University (Ill.) at UW-Oshkosh
7:30 PM
Hanover at Centre
8:00 PM
St. Olaf at Northwestern (Minn.)
8:00 PM
Hamline at Minnesota-Morris
8:00 PM
Lake Forest at Wisconsin Lutheran
8:00 PM
Wartburg at Augsburg
8:00 PM
Hardin-Simmons at Southwestern
Dec. 20: All times Eastern
Final
at UW-Whitewater 52, Mount Union 14
@ Salem Stadium; Salem, Va.
Box Score Recap Photos Photos
Dec. 14: All times Eastern
Final
UW-Whitewater 16, at Mary Hardin-Baylor 15
Box Score Recap Recap Photos
Final
at Mount Union 41, North Central (Ill.) 40
Box Score Recap Recap Photos

What We're Reading