Triple-take: The quarterfinals

Looking like a tough weekend weatherwise in parts of the bracket this weekend.

I, for example, am projecting missed extra points in the North and West regional finals because of weather. But those are only a point or two either direction.

In last week’s picks, Keith and I both went 8-for-8 and Gordon was 7-for-8. Gordon got his in just under the gun, in a comment post eight minutes before kickoff.

Mount Union 59, New Jersey 7. Closest pick, Gordon (Mount Union 42-7). None picked TCNJ with more than seven points.
St. John Fisher 38, Curry 7. Closest pick, Pat (SJF 31-10). All three had St. John Fisher in the 30s.
Central 37, St. John’s 7. Closest pick, Pat (barely, Central 27-24).
Bethel 21, UW-Eau Claire 12. Closest pick, Gordon (Bethel 21-17).
Mary Hardin-Baylor 64, N.C. Wesleyan 0. Closest pick, Pat (UMHB 48-21).
Wesley 38, Muhlenberg 21. Closest pick, Pat (Wesley 28-20).
UW-Whitewater 59, North Central 28. Closest pick, Pat (UWW 38-17).
Wabash 38, Case Western Reserve 23. Closest pick, Pat (Wabash 30-19).

Here’s our take on the regional finals.

South Region
Pat: Mary Hardin-Baylor 41, Wesley 27
Keith: Wesley 34, Mary Hardin-Baylor 31 (OT)
Gordon: Mary Hardin-Baylor 28 Wesley 20

West Region
Pat: Central 20, Bethel 13
Keith: Central 29, Bethel 16
Gordon: Bethel 24 Central 21 (OT)

North Region
Pat: UW-Whitewater 34, Wabash 20
Keith: UW-Whitewater 44, Wabash 21
Gordon: UW-Whitewater 30 Wabash 17

East Region
Pat: Mount Union 40, St. John Fisher 17
Keith: Mount Union 45, St. John Fisher 27
Gordon: Mount Union 35 St. John Fisher 21

Centers of attention

In 2005 Delaware Valley faced the unenviable task of replacing three players who were the best at their position in school history — All American quarterback Adam Knoblauch, all-time leading rusher Steve Cook and All American center Damien Ciecwisz.

Knoblauch and Cook received far more attention than Ciecwisz, but their impact on the Aggies was no greater than the man dubbed C-Wiz. He anchored a very good line that ran and pass blocked for a balanced offense. He was so accurate on shotgun snaps that you forgot they could be tricky until he was gone. And the next season one coach remarked that Ciecwisz, not the more lauded quarterback or running back, might be the toughest guy to replace.

Centers are so critical to a team’s success. Ask a running team that relies on its line to open holes up the middle. Or ask a passing team whose potent attack can be short circuited by a shotgun snap that’s a tad long or a tad short, granting the defense the half-second they need to get to the quarterback. The Center is the only player other than the quarterback who touches the ball on every snap.

And yet, when putting together this year’s All Region teams, there weren’t many centers nominated in some regions for the honor. Just one center was nominated in the East. Honorees were sparse at the conference level, too. The three centers named All Conference in the NJAC were honorable mention, not first or second team. There were no centers on the first teams for the Liberty League or MAC. In fact, there were no centers selected in the MAC at all.

NOTE: Thanks to Saxon54 for a correction. The Empire 8 did have a center on its first team, Mike Callahan of Alfred. I apologize for the mistake.

Last year we mentioned that the tight end seems like an endangered species in Division III. We know centers are plentiful and there’s plenty evidence of some very good ones, like Mount Union’s Eric Safran who is up for the Draddy Trophy.

Central/Bethel and UW-W/Wabash banter

Alright, so, the previous blog post has devolved into a St. John Fisher/Mount Union back and forth and there is some good discussion there about Mary Hardin-Baylor and Wesley.

But there are two other games that are taking place on Saturday as well, and we’re sure people want to talk about them without having to wade through all the other so-called discussion.

Three West teams remain alive out of the original seven selected, with Wabash crashing the party in the North Region to represent the North in its own bracket. I’ll move some of the related comments over here but want to get people started, especially on the teams getting out from under St. John’s shadow.