SALEM, Va. (AP) — It will be familiar opponents when Mount Union and Wisconsin-Whitewater meet in the Amos Alonzo Stagg Bowl for the Division III national championship Friday night at Salem Stadium.
But there will a new twist.
The teams have been the last two standing in Division III in eight of the past nine seasons, but the Purple Raiders of Mount Union (14-0) got there this year with a new coach, 37-year-old Vince Kehres.
Kehres is the son and former defensive coordinator under his father, Larry Kehres, who guided the Purple Raiders to 21 unbeaten regular seasons and 11 national championships in 27 years as coach.
"You can see that they haven't really skipped a beat with Vince taking over for his father," Warhawks coach Lance Leipold said this week. The older Kehres retirned after last season, when he won his 11th national championship, with a career record of 332-24-3, and Leipold dealt him four of those losses.
The Warhawks had won three in a row before last season, when they missed the playoffs entirely while Mount Union gave Larry Kehres a retirement gift with a 28-10 victory against St. Thomas (Minn.).
When Kehres retired in May, but remained as athletic director, his son took over. Vince Kehres played for the Purple Raiders and was connected in some way to 10 of the 11 national championship winners.
"I feel like I got handed the keys to a Cadillac, and I put a coat of wax on it and I gassed it up," Vince Kehres said. "The football program at Mount Union didn't need a lot of touching up."