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.

Sep. 23: All times Eastern
Final
at Bridgewater State 34, Fitchburg State 25
Box Score
Sep. 24: All times Eastern
Final
Christopher Newport 17, at TCNJ 0
Final
at Hobart 27, Union 23
Box Score Recap
Final
at Thomas More 20, Carnegie Mellon 16
Box Score Recap
Final
at Massachusetts Maritime 32, Worcester State 14
Box Score Recap
Final
at Endicott 37, Nichols 0
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Final
MIT 30, at Maine Maritime 13
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Final
at Buffalo State 40, Morrisville State 24
Box Score Recap
Final
at Salve Regina 48, Coast Guard 10
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Final
St. Lawrence 20, at RPI 14
Box Score Recap
Final
at Framingham State 23, Western Connecticut 17
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Final
at Montclair State 21, Rowan 14
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Final
at Stevenson 54, FDU-Florham 15
Box Score Recap
Final
at Trinity (Conn.) 38, Bates 7
Box Score Photos
Final
at Western New England 59, Curry 28
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Final
at Utica 24, Cortland 13
Box Score Recap
Final
Colby 9, at Williams 7
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Final
at Middlebury 40, Bowdoin 3
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Final
at Amherst 34, Hamilton 0
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Final
Kean 24, at William Paterson 13
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Final
at DePauw 66, Hiram 17
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Final
Franklin and Marshall 45, at Juniata 22
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Final
at Kenyon 31, Allegheny 7
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Salisbury 35, at Southern Virginia 0
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Final
Albright 20, at Delaware Valley 17
Box Score Recap
Final
Lycoming 28, at Misericordia 24
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at Plymouth State 30, Mass-Dartmouth 14
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Final
at Husson 35, Alfred State 0
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Final
at Springfield 28, WPI 23
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Final
at Moravian 24, Dickinson 10
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at Denison 45, Wooster 7
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at Wittenberg 24, Wabash 14
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Final
at St. Vincent 57, Grove City 32
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at Susquehanna 55, Gettysburg 40
Box Score Recap Photos
Final
at King's 21, Lebanon Valley 17
Box Score Recap
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at Alfred 20, Ithaca 6
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Final
at Widener 25, Wilkes 23
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at McDaniel 30, Ursinus 27
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Final
at Muskingum 28, Marietta 10
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Final
at Minnesota-Morris 28, Iowa Wesleyan 27
Final
at John Carroll 42, Heidelberg 14
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Final
Ohio Northern 16, at Otterbein 10
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Final
Case Western Reserve 35, at Waynesburg 7
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Final
at Franklin 44, Bluffton 38
Box Score Recap
Final
Rose-Hulman 23, at Defiance 15
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Final
at Centre 49, Chicago 27
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Final
at Mount St. Joseph 38, Manchester 19
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Final
Hanover 49, at Anderson 25
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Final
at Merchant Marine 55, Rochester 7
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Final
Johns Hopkins 30, at Muhlenberg 24
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Final
Concordia-Chicago 42, at Maranatha Baptist 10
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Final
Washington U. 36, at Birmingham-Southern 21
Box Score Recap
Final
UW-Platteville 56, at Lakeland 0
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Final
at Northwestern (Minn.) 38, Martin Luther 20
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Final
at Eureka 28, MacMurray 13
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4th - 03:07
14 Greenville
35 Westminster (Mo.)
Video Live Stats
Final
Dubuque 30, at Luther 17
Box Score Recap
Final
Monmouth 52, at Lake Forest 6
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Final
St. Thomas 33, at St. John's 21
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Final
at Augsburg 49, Carleton 17
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Final
Bethel 44, at St. Olaf 7
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Final
at Hamline 42, Gustavus Adolphus 40
Box Score Recap
Final
at UW-Whitewater 35, Morningside 21
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Final
at Hardin-Simmons 48, Texas Lutheran 38
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Final
at UW-River Falls 42, Southwestern 22
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Final
Simpson 17, at Buena Vista 9
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Final
at St. Scholastica 49, Crown 13
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Final
Cornell 46, at Beloit 41
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at Carthage 27, Augustana 24
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Coe 48, at Nebraska Wesleyan 17
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Final
at Wartburg 56, Finlandia 0
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Final
at Wheaton (Ill.) 10, Elmhurst 6
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Hendrix 42, at Millsaps 14
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Illinois Wesleyan 45, at North Park 10
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at Macalester 34, Grinnell 0
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Final
at Ripon 33, Knox 19
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Illinois College 40, at Lawrence 15
Final
UW-Oshkosh 77, at Morthland College (Ill.) 0
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Final
Central 42, at Loras 34
Box Score Recap
3:00 PM
Thiel at Geneva
Final
UW-Eau Claire 40, at Wisconsin Lutheran 14
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Final
St. John Fisher 42, at Brockport 38
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Final
UW-Stevens Point 44, at Adrian 19
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Final
UW-La Crosse 41, at Carroll 7
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6:00 PM
Sewanee at Berry
Video Live Stats Audio
6:00 PM
Westminster (Pa.) at Bethany
6:00 PM
Ohio Wesleyan at Oberlin
Video Live Stats
4th - 09:14
14 Wesleyan
10 Tufts
Video Video Preview Live Stats
3rd - 06:24
27 Mount Union
7 Baldwin Wallace
Video Preview Live Stats Audio Audio
1:17, 2nd
6 Wilmington
22 Capital
Video Preview Live Stats
7:00 PM
Austin at Southwestern Assemblies
Video Preview
7:00 PM
Langston at McMurry
Video Live Stats
0:52 2Q
7 Millikin
28 North Central (Ill.)
Video Live Stats Audio
10:00 PM
Trinity (Texas) at Chapman
Video Preview Live Stats Live Stats Tickets
Sep. 24: All times Eastern
Final
at Thomas More 20, Carnegie Mellon 16
Box Score Recap
Final
at Hobart 27, Union 23
Box Score Recap
Final
Christopher Newport 17, at TCNJ 0
Final
at Wittenberg 24, Wabash 14
Box Score
Final
Salisbury 35, at Southern Virginia 0
Box Score
Final
Albright 20, at Delaware Valley 17
Box Score Recap
Final
at Utica 24, Cortland 13
Box Score Recap
Final
at Stevenson 54, FDU-Florham 15
Box Score Recap
Final
at Franklin 44, Bluffton 38
Box Score Recap
Final
Johns Hopkins 30, at Muhlenberg 24
Box Score
Final
St. Thomas 33, at St. John's 21
Box Score Recap Photos
Final
at UW-Whitewater 35, Morningside 21
Box Score Recap
Final
at Hardin-Simmons 48, Texas Lutheran 38
Box Score Photos
Final
at Wheaton (Ill.) 10, Elmhurst 6
Final
UW-Platteville 56, at Lakeland 0
Box Score
Final
UW-Oshkosh 77, at Morthland College (Ill.) 0
Box Score
Final
Central 42, at Loras 34
Box Score Recap
Final
St. John Fisher 42, at Brockport 38
Box Score
3rd - 06:24
27 Mount Union
7 Baldwin Wallace
Video Preview Live Stats Audio Audio
0:52 2Q
7 Millikin
28 North Central (Ill.)
Video Live Stats Audio