Football draws No. 1-ranked defending champions in playoffs

Sophomore linebacker Ramon Chavez resists being tackled by a Claremont-Mudd-Scripps player during Chapman’s 48-38 win over the team Nov. 4. Panther Archives

The Chapman football team will travel to Belton, Texas next week to face the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor in the first round of the NCAA Division III Football Championship. Mary Hardin-Baylor, which is ranked No. 1 in Division III football, won the championship last season and is 10-0 this season.

“It’s more exciting than anything to get to go out there play what was, last year, the best team in the nation,” said senior defensive lineman Adam O’Shea. “(We need to) not get too hyped up with the fact that they’re the number one team in the nation and just go out there and play football.”

Chapman (6-2 overall, 6-0 in-conference), which has never faced Mary Hardin-Baylor, gained an automatic qualification to the playoffs by winning the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) this season. It is Chapman’s second-ever playoff berth and its first since winning the SCIAC in 2014.

Chapman traveled to Texas earlier this season to face Trinity University Sept. 23 in San Antonio, where it lost 41-35 in overtime. O’Shea said the experience of traveling to Texas would be beneficial, despite Chapman facing a different team in a different part of Texas.

“I think that’s why you schedule games where you have to travel, because that way, if you have to travel later in the year, like we are now, it’s not a brand-new thing,” O’Shea said.

Chapman is unranked nationally, and the only team that is 6-2 in the playoffs. Because of this, O’Shea said Mary Hardin-Baylor is likely to underestimate Chapman.

“I think when Mary Hardin-Baylor looks at this bracket right now, they basically already see themselves in the second round,” O’Shea said. “We’re one of those teams that you if you look at the bracket, you can definitely write us off, but if you watch any of our games, we’ve got some weapons that will hurt you.”

The game will at 10 a.m. PST on Nov. 18.

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