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SSA graduate Louis Berry helps Mount Union football win another D-III national title

| Saturday, Dec. 23, 2017, 11:00 p.m.
Lou Berry, a Shady Side Academy graduate, intercepted a pass to help the Mount Union defense post a shutout against Mary Hardin Baylor in the Stagg Bowl.
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Lou Berry, a Shady Side Academy graduate, intercepted a pass to help the Mount Union defense post a shutout against Mary Hardin Baylor in the Stagg Bowl.

Two seasons ago, when the Mount Union football team captured its 12th Division III national title, cornerback Louis Berry contributed an interception to the Purple Raiders' Stagg Bowl victory over St. Thomas (Minn.).

Earlier this month, the Purple Raiders (15-0) won their unprecedented 13th national title, shutting out top-ranked Mary Hardin-Baylor, 12-0, in the finals. The Shady Side Academy graduate again had an interception, helping Mount Union post the first Stagg Bowl shutout in 35 years.

His pick came midway through the third quarter with Mount Union clinging to a 3-0 lead. On a third-and-11 pass, Berry dove in front of the intended receiver to take the ball away at midfield.

“I was playing the sticks at that point, and I was expecting him to run that route. I saw it a lot on film,” said Berry, a junior. “Once he broke on that route, I was just trying to make a play.

“We knew there was a lot of pressure on our defense because their defense is very good. We wanted to help the offense any way we could.”

The interception — not to mention the victory — was particularly satisfying for Berry.

After having five interceptions for the 2015 national title team, he suffered through an injury-plagued sophomore season and had only one interception, though he did have a team-high 19 pass breakups. To add the proverbial insult to injury, Mary Hardin-Baylor denied the Purple Raiders a national title repeat, knocking them out in the semifinals.

Berry was healthy and back to his old self this fall, leading the team with seven interceptions and ranking fourth with 54 tackles.

“His role has increased from a freshman where he was kind of a third-down or nickel corner,” coach Vince Kehres said. “He's a full-time starting corner now for us. We ask a lot of him, of all our corners. There's not much help over the top very often.

“Because of his cover skills and speed, we can keep another guy in the box and make it difficult to run on us.”

Beating the defending national champion made this season's Stagg Bowl victory extra sweet for Berry. Now he turns his attention toward 2018 and defending the Purple Raiders' latest national title.

It's a mission he and his teammates aim to complete this time around, and Berry would like nothing more than to end his college career the way he started it.

“As much fun as it is to win, it hurts not to make it to that stage,” he said. “I know how I felt my sophomore year, and I don't want to end my career with that same feeling.”

Chuck Curti is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at ccurti@tribweb.com or via Twitter @CCurti_Trib.

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