Around the Nation
2015 Division III year in review
|Salisbury ended up winning the New Jersey Athletic Conference in its first season in the league, rather than conference favorite Wesley.
Salisbury athletics photo by Paul Jacko
By Ryan Tipps
SALEM – This was a year full of surprises in Division III football.
Not only did we not see a Mount Union/UW-Whitewater Stagg Bowl, but there were a handful of significant upsets in the regular season that affected how the brackets would be aligned.
UW-Whitewater saw its streak of 26 regular-season wins broken by UW-Oshkosh in a 10-7 defensive battle, while Hardin-Simmons got the best of its in-state and American Southwest Conference rival, Mary Hardin-Baylor, for the first time since 2004.
Both UW-W and UMHB, however, avenged their regular-season losses with wins in the playoffs.
Elsewhere, Salisbury beat its Route 13 rival, Wesley, for the first time in more than a decade, upending the trajectory of the realigned NJAC. Perhaps most notably was that Salisbury’s win came just a week after the Gulls lost to Christopher Newport, a team that struggled to a 4-5 conference record in its first NJAC season.
Conferences such as the IIAC, LL, MAC and SAA also ended the year with new faces at the top of the heap, helping to keep us on our toes throughout the various turns of the season. Plus, the Empire 8 was competitive all season, with Cortland eventually coming out on top in its first season in the conference.
It was also exciting to see what corners of the nation that new records would emerge. Among the highlights:
- Gagliardi Trophy winner Joe Callahan of Wesley became the first Division III quarterback to pass for more than 5,000 yards in a season.
- Kwame Do of Occidental set a SCIAC record with 4,133 rushing yards.
- Ripon’s Ron Ernst set a MWC record for most career victories with 160.
- Gagliardi Trophy finalist Matt Pawlowski passed for an ODAC-record 611 yards against Catholic on Oct. 31.
Those are some of the national anc conference records set this season. The team records and outstanding performances are almost too numerous to note. If there are ones that you want to highlight, please use the comments section below.
How my ballots shaped up
The nature of college football is how our perceptions change over the season. Teams rise and fall as injuries, nonconference games, conference alignments and other things take their toll. To give you a snapshot of my thinking start to finish, I’m sharing my preseason...
Adam Turer graduated in 2006 from Washington and Lee University, where he was a two-year starter at free safety. He lives in Cincinnati and covers area high school sports in addition to his full-time job as an attorney. Adam has contributed to D3football.com since 2007 and is in his first season writing Around the Nation after spending four seasons writing Around the Mid-Atlantic.2014-2015 columnist: Ryan Tipps.
2001-2013 columnist: Keith McMillan.
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