September 26, 2012

Union opponents seeing triple

More news about: Union
Matt, William and Pete Meile have unidentical faces and line up in unidentical places for the Dutchmen.
Union athletics photo

It wasn't necessarily the heated games of pick-up basketball, or sometimes more competitive video game battles. It wasn't about who scored more touchdowns, or made more tackles, or won more awards. The Meile triplets -- William, Matt and Pete -- have always gotten along great.

Truthfully, the hardest part about growing up for the brothers was convincing everyone else they were related.

"We don't really look alike, so people didn't believe us growing up that we were actually siblings," William said. " ... So we'd show them our cellphones and we'd show them that we all had the same number for our mom and our dad."

They have a last name, birthday and, for the last three years, college football team in common. But just like their appearances, the skill set each brings to the Union football team is unique.

William, a 6-foot, 230-pound defensive end is stout against the run, and after a two-sack performance in Union's 31-20 win against St. Lawrence this past weekend, is beginning to emerge as a consistent pass rusher.

"Billy is a little undersized at D-end, but he's got great pass rush moves," Union coach John Audino said of the 2011 All-Liberty League honorable mention. "He's very, very strong. ... He can knock heads with any of the big boys."

Pete, a 6-foot-, 260-pound left guard, is the "glue" that holds the offensive line together. Pete, a 2011 All-Liberty League second-team choice, dominates in run blocking, but is an above-average pass blocker as well.

"He knows the offense inside and out," Audino said. "He probably could check plays for the quarterback, if we asked him to. He just knows everything about the offense, pass and run."

Both William and Pete have started regularly since their freshman years. Matt, a 6-foot-1, 185-pound wide receiver currently plays the least of the three. A serious knee injury derailed his sophomore season, and now as a junior, Matt is still working his way back into the mix. But when healthy he provides a solid route runner with reliable hands.

The Meile brothers play three different positions, just as they did at Don Bosco Prep, one of the premier high school-aged football programs in the country, located in their hometown of Ramsey, N.J.

"The cool thing about the three of us is we always played together on the same teams and we always played different positions," Pete said. "... I was always the biggest fan of the other two [and] they were always my biggest fans. We were always supportive of each other, and that was really the cool thing about it."

Of course, the sibling competition has always been there -- Matt says the video game crown is still up for debate, but if you ask William, it belongs to him. 

"There was always competition going on, even if it was like, who could run up stairs faster or who's the best in video games," William said. "We were always competing against each other."

When you're born one minute apart -- William was first, followed one minute later by Matt, and Pete another minute later on Dec. 23, 1991 -- that bond can be special. When the time came to look for colleges, the triplets had no shortage of suitors. In their four years at Don Bosco, the team won four state titles and one national title.

Don Bosco is heavily scouted by college coaches, and has sent dozens of players to all three divisions of football in recent years. The chances of the three brothers continuing their playing career together seemed, at least on the surface, pretty slim.

"We always thought it would be cool to go to school together," Matt said. "We were all together for our first 18 years, so what's four more years? But it honestly wasn't that big of a concern for us, because we're all independent."

Yet, all three applied for early decision at Union and were accepted. William and Matt both wanted to pursue economics with an eye toward business careers. Pete, a political science major, ultimately wants to pursue law school. Union met all three of their academic desires, while at the same time allowing them to follow in their father's footsteps and play collegiate football -- WIlliam Miele Sr. played outside linebacker at the University of Maryland in the mid-1970s.

Audino doesn't hide the fact that he wanted players in his program from Don Bosco. The Meile brothers are his first three such players from the New Jersey powerhouse. They are also the first set of triplets he's ever coached.

"They're just leaders," Audino said. "They prepare the right way from being at Bosco and just always do the right thing on and off the field. I have not one negative thing to say about any of them. They're always on time. They're committed as players."

The triplets' younger brother, Eric, is a junior at Don Bosco and, according to Matt, is the best athlete in the family. It's hard to believe the triplets will let their younger brother take that title without a battle.

Union sits at 1-3 overall after dropping a pair of tough three-point decisions to Salve Regina and Ithaca. But there is plenty to build off of for the team and the triplets after this past weekend's win over St. Lawrence. Perhaps a postseason bid, something that has alluded the brothers in their first two seasons, lies in the offing.

For now, they are content to continue a family tradition that started in the second grade.

"Growing up, we never really thought anything of it," Matt said. "We were always together."

Two-team race in the Empire 8? Hold on, says Alfred

How good is Buffalo State? Do we have any idea? In my opinion, no. But this shouldn't take away from what Alfred accomplished this past weekend.

The Saxons dominated a team that, just one week earlier, defeated the three-time defending national champion. Yeah, go ahead and try to figure this all out.

Really, we could just be looking at true parity in Division III, a relatively rare thing in recent history. More likely, we saw a supremely talented, but still green Buffalo State team suffer a 40-17 letdown to a more complete and experienced Alfred squad.

Alfred won this game on the ground, plain and simple. The Saxons rushed for 401 yards while holding the Bengals to just 139 yards. Throw in three forced turnovers and a blocked punt return for a touchdown, and you have an almost fail-proof formula for victory. Chuck Beckwith spearheaded the Alfred rushing attack, piling up 177 yards and three touchdowns on just eight carries. Beckwith scored on touchdown runs of 31, 52 and 80 yards -- all in the second half. 

When they did throw, the Saxons were efficient and effective. Junior transfer quarterback Zach Sopak completed 12 of his 24 passes for 117 yards and a pair of scores. And a swarming Alfred defense, led by Jon Jackson (11 tackles, one INT), mostly held a potent Buffalo State offense in check.

It's far too soon to make any kind of prediction about either of those teams. In fact, judging by Buffalo State's roller coaster season so far, the Bengals will probably turn around and upset No. 7 Salisbury this Saturday. But this writer feels comfortable in predicting that Alfred, with enough experienced players from recent Empire 8 title teams and an underrated coach in Dave Murray, will keep itself in the conference race until late in the season.

90-0 -- how much is too much?

Surely you've seen the score by now. Widener 90, Wilkes 0.

This one was as ugly as the final score would suggest. Widener crushed a school and conference record for points in a game (74 against Lebanon Valley in 2003). Chris Haupt threw for 415 yards and a school-record-tying six touchdowns. James McFadden even set a new school and conference record for PATs with 12.

Wilkes, which beat Widener 35-27 last season, had no answer for Haupt, Alec Wrieth (three receptions, 121 yards, two TDs) and Anthony Davis (three receptions, 113 yards, two TDs) in the passing game. The Pride also scored six times on the ground and once on a fumble recovery. This was as thorough a domination as you will see at any level of football.

But was it too much? That's a fair question. From a competitive, and even moral, perspective, when does a blowout surpass the point of simple competition and become an embarrassment? 

I'm always more inclined to say, "let 'em play," particularly at the college level. Look, most college players will get a few dozen games to see the field. Maybe the best will get upwards of 30, even 40 games, but some don't get to play regularly until they are upperclassmen. With such limited time, I don't see a problem with a team letting them play out the end of games, even lopsided blowouts.

No one wants to see final scores like this, but it happens. Moving forward, Widener has cemented itself as one of the most dangerous offensive teams in the country. Wilkes really has nowhere to go but up, and a home matchup with FDU-Florham is strong chance to bounce back.

Delaware Valley, which defeated FDU-Florham 63-3, was perhaps overshadowed by Widener. Like the Pride, the Aggies set a school record for largest margin of victory. Aaron Wilmer completed all but two of his 19 passes for 236 yards and a pair of scores. Kyle Schuberth rushed for 115 yards and two TDs as Delaware Valley cruised to its second straight win opening the season with back-to-back losses.

Delaware Valley is in a unique position at this point – it’s flying under the radar. A home matchup with Albright this Saturday will be a strong test, but the regular-season finale against Widener remains the must-see game.

RPI stays hot, routs WPI

While Hobart has rolled to an impressive 4-0 start, RPI has quietly kept up pace.

The Engineers have won all three of their games by at least 18 points, including this past weekend's 39-17 win against WPI. At this point, the season-opening win over Alfred stands as the team's most impressive victory, but the WPI win isn't far behind.

Quarterback Mike Hermann has, without question, confirmed his standing as one of the most dangerous players in the Liberty League. The senior threw for 239 yards and two scores and rushed for 42 yards and three TDs against WPI. Of the Engineers' 17 offensive touchdowns this season, Hermann has either thrown for or rushed for 14 of them.

Perhaps more importantly, RPI's defense has been dominant in its three games. The Engineers have 10 sacks (3.5 by Wade Hansen) and six interceptions. RPI mostly shut down Alfred in its opener, and kept WPI in check this past weekend. The key part of RPI's schedule comes late -- the Engineers face Hobart, Springfield and Union in their final three games. But for now, RPI looks like a team that can keep pace with Hobart in the Liberty League race. 

Trying to figure out the NJAC? Don't bother

I'm serious -- you'll just drive yourself crazy.

One week it's Brockport State that looks like the favorite. The next week it's Rowan. Maybe you thought it was Cortland State. Now, you could certainly argue Kean's back in the mix. This one won't be settled for quite some time.

Kean, coming off a bye week after dropping its first two games to Albright and No. 2 Mary Hardin-Baylor, handed Brockport State its first loss with a 14-6 win this past Saturday. Kean wore Brockport down on the ground, rushing for 317 yards on 42 attempts. Darius Kinney was the workhorse, picking up 207 yards on 23 carries, including an 80-yard TD late in the third quarter to put Kean up by eight points.

Rowan got all it could handle from upstart Western Connecticut, but ultimately held on for a 30-24 win. Western Connecticut led 21-20 at the half, but surrendered the next 10 points to fall out of reach. A loss to the Colonials would have been devastating to the heavily favored Profs. Western Connecticut is still searching for its first win since Nov. 7, 2009, and with a performance like this, you can sense it is getting close.

Rowan, however, has much bigger aspirations. Cortland State, which defeated Morrisville State 56-14, is in the same boat. The preseason favorite struggled in a season-opening loss to Buffalo State, but has since steamrolled Western Connecticut and Morrisville State by a combined 128-28 margin. Dorian Myles (155 rushing yards, one TD) and Justin Autera (80 yards, two TDs) were dominant against Morrisville State, and are a deadly combination for the Red Dragons moving forward.

Top 25: Rowan in, Brockport and Buffalo State out

Rowan (No. 25), after a second straight win, cracked the D3football.com Top 25 poll this week. NJAC rival Brockport State and Buffalo State each tumbled out of the top 25 after disappointing losses.

Salisbury (No. 7) and St. John Fisher (No. 9) remained in the top 10, while Hobart (No. 12) came in just outside the top 10. Widener, following its historic blowout win, climbed three spots from No. 21 to No. 18.

RPI, Brockport State, Buffalo State, Ithaca, Alfred, Kean and Lycoming all received votes.

Quick hits

Cody Miller rushed for 99 yards and two of St. John Fisher's five rushing touchdowns in a 43-13 win against Hartwick. Fisher also intercepted four Hartwick passes, including one that Adam Burdick returned 54 yards for a touchdown. ... Steve Webb rushed for 150 yards and three touchdowns to lead Hobart past Merchant Marine 42-21. The Mariners intercepted Nick Strang three times, but failed to keep up the scoring pace against Hobart's stout defense. ... Tyler Jenny tossed a pair of TDs to Jarrin Campman as Lycoming scored 29 unanswered points in a 29-14 win against Albright. ... A.J. Scoppa piled up 247 yards and four touchdowns on the ground as Montclair State knocked off William Paterson 34-17. ... Joe Ingrao caught 11 passes for 161 yards, including a 52-yard touchdown right before halftime, as Ithaca improved to 3-0 with a 40-21 win against Frostburg State. Clay Ardoin added 118 yards and two TDs on the ground for the Bombers. ... Joel Altavesta tallied 214 yards and three touchdowns on the ground as Springfield routed Rochester 44-14. Springfield rushed for 416 yards en route to its third straight win. ... Zach Halpin returned a third-quarter interception nine yards for a touchdown as Lebanon Valley held on for a 31-28 win against Stevenson. ... Connor Eck threw three touchdown passes to Kyle Reynolds and Jafar Johnson picked off a pair of passes in Union's 31-20 victory against St. Lawrence. ... King's defeated Misericordia 55-17 behind Kyle McGrath's 226 rushing yards and three touchdowns. 

Looking ahead

Buffalo State (2-2, 0-1) will have another chance to bounce back from a disappointing loss against a ranked opponent when it hosts No. 7 Salisbury (2-1, 0-0) at noon Saturday. After its shocking win against then-No. 1 UW-Whitewater, Buffalo State fell flat against Alfred. A win against Salisbury would certainly shift momentum back in Buffalo State's favor.

Lebanon Valley (3-1, 2-1) will become the latest team to try to slow the potent offensive attack of No. 18 Widener (4-0, 3-0) when the two teams play at 1 p.m. Saturday. Lebanon Valley got all it could handle from Stevenson, so slowing down Chris Haupt and company will be a tough challenge.

Can Montclair State (2-2, 2-0) hang in the NJAC title race until the end? It's too early to know, but we'll get a better indication when the Red Hawks travel to play Cortland State (2-1, 2-0) at 1 p.m. Saturday. Cortland has looked impressive in its two wins, following a season-opening loss to Buffalo State.

Other games of note: Brockport State (3-1, 1-1) at Rowan (3-1, 2-0), 1 p.m., Saturday; Albright (3-1, 2-1) at Delaware Valley (2-2, 2-1), 1 p.m., Saturday; Utica (2-1, 0-0) at Ithaca (3-0, 1-0), 1 p.m., Saturday; Springfield (3-1, 1-0) at Union (1-3, 1-0), 6 p.m., Saturday

Contact me

I'm always happy to hear from you, whether its questions, feedback or story ideas. Please reach out to me at andrew.lovell@d3sports.com. You can also follow me on Twitter (@andrew_lovell), and be sure to get involved in the discussions on the Around the East thread on the message board.

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Andrew Lovell

Andrew Lovell is an associate news editor for ESPN.com and a former sports staff writer/editor for the New Britain Herald (Conn.). He has contributed freelance work to ESPN Rise and has been a regular contributor to D3football.com since 2007. Andrew has also written for a number of daily newspapers in New York, including the Poughkeepsie Journal, Ithaca Journal and Auburn Citizen. He graduated from Ithaca College in 2008 with B.A. in Sport Media and a minor in writing. A native of Hyde Park, N.Y., Andrew currently resides in New Britain. 

2006-10 columnist: Adam Samrov 

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