ATN Podcast 324: The Road to Annapolis is complete

It’s No. 1 vs. No. 2, just as everyone expected, as North Central and Mount Union advance to play in Stagg Bowl XLIX in Annapolis. While this is a rematch of teams that played in the second round in 2019, then in the semifinals the next season (2021), this particular rematch turns the tables.

It’s unusual not just in that it’s the first one being played outside of Alliance, Ohio. It’s also now a flipping of the old paradigm. Suddenly it’s North Central, playing in the Stagg Bowl for the third consecutive time, that is the program with all the players with Stagg Bowl experience, while Mount Union hasn’t played in the game since 2018, and hasn’t won it since 2017.

This edition of the podcast is sponsored by the hosts of Stagg Bowl XLIX, and we look forward to seeing all of you in Annapolis, Maryland, for the Division III football championship game on Dec. 16.

We sit down for a long postgame conversation with North Central’s Brad Spencer after his team’s win against Mary Hardin-Baylor. And we don’t, or can’t, with Mount Union’s Geoff Dartt. We certainly try, and we try multiple times a year, and we’ll talk more about that — it’s something we haven’t talked much about publicly. Meanwhile, we’ll hear from the Mount Union coach and players solely via the team’s postgame news conference.

Plus, we take reader questions, one from a reader who isn’t satisfied merely to have his team win, but questions why people didn’t pick North Central to win by more. (The answer is simple, and we’ll give it to you on the podcast.) And another prompts a good discussion of which games on North Central’s and Mount Union’s schedule provide the best opportunity to gain insight on how this week’s game will be played.

This is the first of three podcasts to come this week. The next will drop Friday morning and preview the Stagg Bowl, and the following one will drop on Saturday morning and give our breakdown of the game, plus our rationale as to why we chose whomever we end up choosing as our Offensive Player of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year and Coach of the Year.

Pat Coleman and Greg Thomas talk about it all in the latest Around the Nation Podcast. The Around the Nation Podcast is a regular conversation covering the wide range of Division III football.

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Theme music: Power 2 by DJmentos.
Photos by Thomas Nettleton,; Dean Reid,

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