December 3, 2010

The rematch

More news about: Bethel | St. Thomas
Jared Schultz
Bethel relies heavily on freshmen in the receiving corps, such as Jared Schultz.
Photo by Ryan Coleman, d3photography.com

By Brian Hunsicker
for D3sports.com

The football adage goes that it’s hard to beat a team twice in the same season. It’s a central theme when teams from the same conference meet in the playoffs, as Bethel and St. Thomas – two MIAC foes – do Saturday.

Both coaches agree, but up to a point.

St. Thomas coach Glenn Caruso sees positives and negatives: the benefit of one more win, though that’s tempered by the fact that his team cannot afford any letup in its preparation. Bethel coach Steve Johnson said that he’s been asked by media outlets about the Royals seeking revenge for the Oct. 23 loss; that’s not a factor, he said, since both teams will still need to execute the fundamentals.

Home for the holidays
According to the NCAA's mileage chart, this is the shortest travel matchup of the playoffs.

Miles traveled by UST's opponents: 4,272
Miles driven by Bethel: 1,214
Saturday's round trip: 20

But this is a game that figures to go beyond platitudes; the two schools are neighbors, after all, their campuses are separated by less than 10 miles. Their regular season matchup was a taut affair, with Tommy Becker’s interception in the final minutes allowing the Tommies to close out a 10-6 win. Local media has been paying attention too: Johnson said his team got a jolt out of ending practice one day this week, only to find crews from three television stations waiting to do interviews.

And, as Johnson said, it will come down to fundamentals.

“They’re very comfortable in their own skin,” Caruso said of Bethel. “They play great defense, they can run the football and they take selected deep shots.”

Steve Johnson
Glenn Caruso
Bethel coach Steve Johnson, top, St. Thomas coach Glenn Caruso know each other's team well.

Indeed, St. Thomas’ offense – which ranks 14th in Division III in points per game – and Bethel’s defense will be the marquee matchup. The Royals’ unit boasts incredible team statistics: top 10 nationally in rushing defense, scoring defense and total defense.

That’s not to say the other the side of the ball for both teams won’t matter. The Tommies will have to find a way to stop senior running back Logan Flannery, who averages just over 138 rushing yards per game. Flannery hasn’t been held under 100 yards since a late October win against Concordia-Moorhead.

Bethel should also benefit from the return of left tackle Kyle Wahlund, who missed the Royals’ second-round win against Wheaton with an injury. Johnson said he expects Wahlund to be back in the lineup.

As with the pros and cons over meeting for the second time this season, both teams see benefits to having the game at St. Thomas. Travel will be easy for Bethel – unlike the past two weeks, which saw them travel more than 600 miles combined to Wartburg and Wheaton. And St. Thomas has a decided homefield advantage, boasting a 15-game winning streak at O’Shaughnessy Stadium.

Rarely does early December provide a regional rivalry game, and that – aside from the platitudes and the matchups – may make this game most interesting.

“The coaches, we’re tight-knit in this league,” Johnson said. “We want to beat the socks off of each other, and this is a rivalry. But it’s a rivalry that’s good, not a jackass rivalry.”

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
8:00 PM
Millsaps at Belhaven
Sep. 2: All times Eastern
TBA
Muhlenberg at Wilkes
6:00 PM
Mass-Dartmouth at Mount Ida
6:00 PM
Delaware Valley at Wesley
7:00 PM
N.C. Wesleyan at Stevenson
7:00 PM
Western New England at Springfield
7:00 PM
Fitchburg State at Becker
Video Live Stats
7:00 PM
Albright at Salisbury
7:00 PM
WPI at MIT
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
TBA
Endicott at Framingham State
TBA
Kean at Christopher Newport
TBA
King's at Moravian
Live Stats
TBA
Lebanon Valley at Franklin and Marshall
TBA
Marietta at Denison
TBA
McDaniel at Catholic
TBA
Wisconsin Lutheran at Trinity Int'l
TBA
Sewanee at Kenyon
TBA
UW-Platteville at George Fox
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
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
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
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
Live Stats
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
La Verne at Puget Sound
Live Stats
4:00 PM
Central at Whitworth
5:00 PM
Hartwick at Western Connecticut
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
6:00 PM
Redlands at Trinity (Texas)
7:00 PM
Hiram at Westminster (Pa.)
7:00 PM
Thiel at Allegheny
7:00 PM
Capital at Wittenberg
7:00 PM
Shenandoah at Gallaudet
Live Stats
7:00 PM
Illinois College at Rose-Hulman
Video Live Stats
7:00 PM
Hanover at Centre
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
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
Dec. 18: All times Eastern
Final
Mount Union 49, at St. Thomas 35
@ Salem, Va.
Box Score Recap Recap Photos