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. 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
Video Live Stats
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
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
12:00 PM
Sewanee at Kenyon
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
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.
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