Nov. 18, 2008

By Amy Farnum Novin

Five of the eight second-round games in the NCAA Division II playoffs will be rematches of regular season contests with the higher seed winning four of the five previous matchups.

Northwest Missouri State downed Pittsburg State in the Fall Classic at Arrowhead on October. 4, while North Alabama beat defending NCAA champion Valdosta State on Oct. 25.  Abilene Christian handed West Texas A&M, 52-35, in a Lone Star Conference tilt Oct. 18, and top-ranked Grand Valley State escaped a close call by Ashland in a 48-42 win on Oct. 25.

Top-seeded Bloomsburg will seek revenge on West Chester in the Super Regional One second-round contest.  The Golden Rams snapped the Huskies’ 14-game winning streak with a 24-21 victory as they claimed their second straight Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference Eastern Division title Nov. 1. 

All of the higher-seeded teams enjoyed first-round byes last week, while all second-round games will be held on Nov. 22.

HARLON HILL HARDWARE:  The eight finalists for the Harlon Hill Trophy – the NCAA Division II Football Player of the Year – were announced Nov. 17, and it’s no surprise that seven of the eight helped their teams to the Division II playoffs, and six will be in action this weekend during second-round games.

Junior quarterbacks Trevor Harris of Edinboro (Pa.) University and Brad Iciek of Grand Valley State, senior wide receiver Michael Washington of West Chester, senior quarterbacks A.J. Milwee of North Alabama, Corey Russell of Tusculum College, and Ted Schlafke of Minnesota-Duluth, and senior running back Bernard Scott of Abilene Christian are the eight finalists.  Scott was the runner-up in 2007.

The elite group includes some pretty impressive performances.  Iciek concluded the regular season as the second-highest rated passer in Division II with 29 touchdown passes, while Scott ranks second with 169.5 yards rushing per game.  Washington is only the third player at any level of college football to record 1,000 receiving yards in all four years of his career.

The winner will be announced Dec. 12 in Florence, Ala., in conjunction with the Division II Football Hall of Fame induction, the day preceding the national title game at Florence’s Braly Municipal Stadium.

MAKING HISTORY:  After becoming full member institution of the NCAA this fall, Seton Hill University immediately capitalized on its new opportunities. 

With a 9-2 record, the football program became the first team in school history in any sport to earn a NCAA postseason bid as the sixth seed in Super Regional One – one of only 24 teams that advanced to the NCAA Division II Football Playoffs.

The Griffins were not satisfied with just a berth in the playoffs, and went on to defeat American International, 14-7, on the Yellow Jackets’ home field.  Sammy Tranks keyed the victory with 158 all-purpose yards, including a 64-yard punt return that led to the Griffins’ first touchdown of the game.

Seton Hill will travel to California (Pa.) for the second round of the NCAA playoffs on Nov. 22.

NOTABLE: Delta State and Tusculum will be meeting for the first time on the football field in the second round contest Nov. 22 … Minnesota-Duluth enters the playoffs as the only team with an 11-0 record in the field.  Grand Valley State and Abilene Christian are both 10-0.