Making his own name

More news about: Baldwin Wallace
Luke Riemenschneider has a game-winning interception return and a record-setting fumble return to his credit in the past two weeks. 
Baldwin Wallace athletics photo

Luke Riemenschneider remembers going with his dad to a Baldwin Wallace football game when he was in grade school. His father, Dirk, was an All-American offensive tackle for the Yellow Jackets in the 1980s.

“That game had a huge impact on me,” Riemenschneider said. “I remember him taking me into the training room and it was very cool. To be able to play at the same school he did means a lot to me.”

Riemenschneider’s connection to Baldwin Wallace runs deep. Not only did his father play there, but his uncle, Chris, was an All-American defensive end. His great-grandfather started the Riemenschneider-Bach Institute of Music at the school.

Riemenschneider is now making his own mark at the school. The senior defensive end is a captain for the Yellow Jackets this season and one of the leading tacklers on the team with 34.

And the last two weeks have been memorable as he has turned two turnovers into touchdowns. In a 35-7 win over Muskingum two weeks ago, Riemenschneider returned a fumble 86 yards for a touchdown, a Finnie Stadium record.

This past weekend on the road against Marietta, the senior picked off a pass and ran it back 26 yards for the game-winning score in a 40-33 win over Marietta.

“I was just in the right place at the right time,” Riemenschneider said. “On the fumble, I just happened to pick it up and run with it. With the interception, it was a flare pass and I was able to reach out and get my hands on it. I took advantage of the opportunities.”

In doing that, he has been named the Ohio Athletic Conference Defensive Player of the Week in two straight weeks. He has earned the honor a total of three times in his career.

“I just go out there and play every play, trying to do my job as best as I can,” Riemenschneider said. “I’ve been lucky the last two weeks to make such big plays.”

His efforts have helped the Yellow Jackets win two consecutive games and improve to 3-2 on the season. Baldwin Wallace is 2-2 in conference play.

Coach John Snell can’t say enough about the role Riemenschneider plays on the defense.

“His play has been huge for us,” Snell said. “He’s one of the key players on our defensive line and he is one of those players who finds a way to step up every week.”

Riemenschneider played mainly on the junior varsity team as a freshman but played in three games for the varsity team. A year later, Riemenschneider racked up 25 tackles in 10 games.

Last season was a breakout year as he came through with 63 tackles, the fourth-most on the team. Riemenschneider, a starter at defensive end all season, earned second-team All-OAC honors and was Baldwin Wallace’s Most Outstanding Defensive Lineman last year.

When he was a freshman at Baldwin Wallace, he remembers watching film of his high school games with his roommate, who was also one of his high school teammates, and they made fun of each other about how many mistakes they made. They saw those games differently after getting experience at the college level.

Four years later, Riemenschneider has developed into a leader for a Baldwin Wallace team that is allowing 362 yards per game.

“I’ve grown up a lot,” Riemenschneider said. “I remember looking up to older teammates when I was a freshman, and now I’ve become one of the leaders. I’m a much smarter player and I feel a lot more confident.”

But Riemenschneider’s athletic talents don’t end on the football field. He also plays lacrosse for the Yellow Jackets. It was a club team his freshman year but became a varsity sport the following year. Riemenschneider scored 24 goals that season.

Playing both sports made life interesting to say the least.

“I would go from lacrosse practice to spring football practice. It was almost like two-a-days for me,” Riemenschneider said. “It was pretty rough at times, but it was worth it.”

He didn’t play lacrosse last year because he wanted to focus on football, but he intends to play this coming spring. He will also have a year of eligibility left to play lacrosse in 2016.

For now, his focus is on football and helping the Yellow Jackets come through with another winning season. He said the key to success is improving each day and he challenges himself to do just that.

As for the experience of playing two sports and carrying on a family tradition, Riemenschneider said he wouldn’t have it any other way.

“It’s a really cool experience,” Riemenschneider said. “I wouldn’t trade it for the world. I’ve learned so much from it and I’m glad things worked out the way they did for me.”

Mees makes his mark

Michael Mees became the all-time leader in passing yards at Heidelberg on Saturday, throwing for 237 in the Student Princes’ 54-21 Ohio Athletic Conference win over Muskingum.

Mees now has 7,461 yards in his stellar career. The old record of 7,373 was held by Shane Fulton and was set in 1986.

Mees completed 13 of his 20 passes and threw a pair of touchdown passes as the Student Princes extended their win streak to three games. Both of his scoring strikes fell into the hands of Dontae Dye, who finished with six catches for 154 yards.

Mees has been instrumental to Heidelberg’s success over the last four years, throwing for more than 2,000 yards twice. He is at 1,200 yards through five games this season and has thrown 15 touchdowns while only being picked off three times.

Mees has helped the Student Princes score 40 or more four times this year. Heidelberg is averaging 532.6 yards per game. Mees and his teammates will have to be at their best this week as they battle third-ranked Mount Union on Saturday in Alliance.

Dutchmen flying high

Hope beat up Rockford in a non-conference game on Saturday, rolling up season highs in yards and points in a 38-12 victory.

The Flying Dutchmen were balanced en route to racking up 549 yards, getting 266 through the air and 283 on the ground.

Matt Kroll stepped up, coming through with his second 100-yard receiving game of the year. Kroll caught five passes for 108 yards and a touchdown.

Kroll is second on the team in receiving with 26 catches for 391 yards. The junior has scored four touchdowns and continues to make strides for an offense that is averaging 431.2 yards per game. A year ago, Kroll caught 24 passes for 338 yards and five touchdowns.

James does it again

Brandon James is getting pretty good at turning fake punts into big plays.

James did it for the second week in a row on Saturday as he took the snap on fourth-and-4 and took off for a 66-yard touchdown run that gave the Fighting Scots momentum in a 42-21 North Coast Athletic Conference win over Allegheny.

James gained 46 yards on a fake punt last week in a loss to Wabash. Not only did James score against the Gators, he also led the way on defense with 13 tackles.

James is second on the team in tackles with 52 and has also forced a fumble. The senior defensive back is part of a defense that is allowing 402.8 yards per game.

James was a third-team All-North Region selection by D3football.com last season after making 87 tackles and picking off five passes.

Wait is over

After five weeks of falling short, Westminster nailed down its first win of the season on Saturday, topping Thiel 40-28.

It marked the first win for new coach Scott Benzel. It was also a big day for freshman quarterback Paul Columbo. Columbo threw four touchdown passes as he completed 20 of his 30 passes for 317 yards. The completion, yard and touchdown totals were career highs for the freshman out of Florida.

Khurazze Williams, also a freshman from Florida, was Columbo’s top target. He caught seven passes for 118 yards and a pair of touchdowns.

Columbo has thrown for 1,128 yards and eight touchdowns while Williams has made 23 catches for 326 yards to lead the team in receiving. The two have helped the Titans average 344.8 yards per game.

Poll points

Third-ranked Mount Union posted its second consecutive shutout, drilling Ohio Northern 62-0. The Purple Raiders, who have allowed only 20 points all season, held the Polar Bears to 130 yards. Josh Butler tallied six tackles and a sack to lead the way...No. 6 John Carroll scored on its first eight possessions in a 69-0 win over Wilmington. Scoring the fourth-most points in program history, John Carroll rolled up 592 yards, with Mark Myers throwing for 284 yards and five scores...Houston Hodges caught three touchdown passes and No. 10 Wabash rolled to a 45-13 road win over Ohio Wesleyan. Hodges has caught five touchdown passes in his career at Selby Stadium and finished Saturday with six catches for 71 yards. ... No. 15 Wittenberg ran its NCAC streak to 17 games with a 30-23 win over Denison. Zach Jenkins threw two touchdown passes to Zach Culvahouse and Evan Killilea came up with nine tackles and a sack. ... No. 20 Washington & Jefferson is off to its best start since 2009 after a 55-14 win over Grove City. The Presidents, who started 7-0 five years ago, are 5-0 on the season. Max Creighan caught 13 passes for 107 yards, one shy of the school record for receptions in a game. He caught a two-point conversion pass as well. The Presidents rolled up 594 yards.

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Joe Sager

Joe Sager is a freelance writer based in Pittsburgh. He has written about sports since 1996 for a variety of newspapers, magazines and websites. He first covered D-III football in 2000 with the New Castle (Pa.) News.

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