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.”

comments powered by Disqus
Sep. 3: All times Eastern
7:00 PM
Anna Maria at Coast Guard
7:00 PM
Franklin and Marshall at Lebanon Valley
7:00 PM
Ursinus at Millersville
7:30 PM
Manchester at Trine
Live Stats
8:00 PM
Belhaven at Millsaps
8:00 PM
Bethel at UW-Stout
Sep. 4: All times Eastern
7:00 PM
Salisbury at Albright
Live Stats
7:00 PM
Gettysburg at Bridgewater (Va.)
7:00 PM
St. Lawrence at Morrisville State
7:00 PM
MIT at WPI
Live Stats Video
7:00 PM
Westfield State at Nichols
7:00 PM
Becker at Fitchburg State
Live Stats Video
7:00 PM
Stevenson at N.C. Wesleyan
7:00 PM
Mount Ida at Mass-Dartmouth
Live Stats Video
7:00 PM
Curry at Bridgewater State
Live Stats
7:00 PM
Wilkes at Muhlenberg
7:00 PM
Averett at Washington and Lee
Live Stats
8:30 PM
Luther at UW-La Crosse
Sep. 5: All times Eastern
TBA
Buffalo State at Otterbein
TBA
Buena Vista at UW-Platteville
12:00 PM
Hobart at Dickinson
12:00 PM
Norwich at RPI
12:00 PM
Heidelberg at Cortland State
12:00 PM
Maine Maritime at SUNY-Maritime
12:00 PM
St. John Fisher at Thomas More
Live Stats
12:00 PM
Alfred at Husson
Live Stats Video
12:00 PM
Framingham State at Endicott
Live Stats
12:00 PM
TCNJ at Christopher Newport
12:00 PM
Worcester State at Salve Regina
Live Stats
12:00 PM
Grove City at Juniata
12:00 PM
Westminster (Mo.) at Southwestern Assemblies
1:00 PM
Delaware Valley at Montclair State
1:00 PM
Lycoming at Susquehanna
1:00 PM
William Paterson at Alfred State
1:00 PM
Alma at Finlandia
1:00 PM
Springfield at Western New England
1:00 PM
Ferrum at Emory and Henry
1:00 PM
Earlham at Olivet
Live Stats
1:00 PM
Centre at Hanover
1:00 PM
Wabash at Hampden-Sydney
Video Audio Audio
1:00 PM
Washington and Jefferson at Wooster
Live Stats
1:00 PM
Rowan at Widener
1:00 PM
Ithaca at Union
1:00 PM
Brockport State at Oberlin
1:00 PM
John Carroll at St. Vincent
1:00 PM
Johns Hopkins at Randolph-Macon
1:00 PM
Castleton State at Plymouth State
1:00 PM
Methodist at Apprentice
1:00 PM
Waynesburg at Muskingum
Live Stats
1:00 PM
Case Western Reserve at Chicago
Live Stats Video
1:00 PM
Carnegie Mellon at Washington U.
Live Stats Video
1:30 PM
Wittenberg at Capital
1:30 PM
Illinois Wesleyan at Franklin
Live Stats
1:30 PM
Berry at Maryville (Tenn.)
Live Stats
1:30 PM
Monmouth at Hope
Live Stats Audio
1:30 PM
Bethany at Mount Union
Live Stats
1:30 PM
Bluffton at Wilmington
2:00 PM
Kenyon at Sewanee
2:00 PM
Beloit at Concordia-Chicago
2:00 PM
Rockford at Lawrence
2:00 PM
Wisconsin Lutheran at Lake Forest
2:00 PM
Carthage at St. Norbert
2:00 PM
Wheaton (Ill.) at Coe
2:00 PM
Jamestown at Concordia-Moorhead
2:00 PM
Macalester at Carleton
2:00 PM
Minnesota-Morris at Hamline
2:00 PM
Northwestern (Minn.) at St. Olaf
2:00 PM
Dubuque at St. John's
2:00 PM
Illinois College at Aurora
2:00 PM
North Park at Concordia (Wis.)
Live Stats
2:00 PM
UW-River Falls at Simpson
2:00 PM
Hendrix at Austin
2:00 PM
Southwestern at Hardin-Simmons
2:00 PM
Knox at Eureka
2:00 PM
Maranatha Baptist at Martin Luther
2:00 PM
St. Scholastica at Ripon
2:00 PM
Louisiana College at Huntingdon
2:00 PM
Loras at Elmhurst
3:00 PM
Pacific at College of Idaho
4:00 PM
George Fox at La Verne
4:00 PM
Puget Sound at Claremont-Mudd-Scripps
Live Stats
4:30 PM
Misericordia at Utica
Live Stats Video Audio
5:00 PM
Western Connecticut at Hartwick
5:00 PM
Defiance at Adrian
6:00 PM
Moravian at King's
6:00 PM
Birmingham-Southern at LaGrange
6:00 PM
UW-Stevens Point at Albion
6:00 PM
Redemption Christian College at Southern Virginia
Live Stats
7:00 PM
Guilford at Greensboro
Live Stats
7:00 PM
Allegheny at Thiel
7:00 PM
Gallaudet at Shenandoah
Live Stats Live Stats Video Audio
7:00 PM
Kalamazoo at Rose-Hulman
Live Stats Video
7:00 PM
Westminster (Pa.) at Hiram
7:00 PM
Marietta at Denison
7:00 PM
Anderson at Taylor (Ind.)
7:00 PM
Mary Hardin-Baylor at Ohio Wesleyan
7:00 PM
Frostburg State at Geneva
7:00 PM
UW-Oshkosh at Robert Morris University (Ill.)
7:00 PM
Greenville at Millikin
7:00 PM
Trinity (Texas) at Howard Payne
7:00 PM
Texas Lutheran at Sul Ross State
7:00 PM
Mount St. Joseph at Augustana
7:10 PM
St. Thomas at UW-Eau Claire
7:30 PM
Catholic at McDaniel
7:30 PM
Benedictine at Central
8:00 PM
McMurry at East Texas Baptist
8:00 PM
Lakeland at Carroll
8:00 PM
Augsburg at Wartburg
8:00 PM
Gustavus Adolphus at Crown
8:00 PM
Iowa Wesleyan at Cornell
Maintenance in progress.