Johnnies, Tommies warm up for Allianz Field showdown

Full house expected in one of D-3's top rivalries

WCCO Radio Newsroom
October 13, 2019 - 7:54 am
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The Johnnies and Tommies are all warmed up and ready to go for Saturday's annual rivalry football game.

A crowd of about 20,000 is expected to watch Johnnie-Tommie 2019 at Allianz Field, the new soccer-specific stadium in St. Paul's Midway neighborhood, which has drawn rave reviews in its inaugural season for Minnesota United's MLS matches.

The fourth-ranked Johnnies put together a strong showing in a 19-0 shutout of No. 6 Bethel in Collegeville on Saturday, keeping Saint John's unbeaten through six games.

In Minneapolis, St. Thomas was dominant in a 58-0 triumph over Augsburg, the Tommies' second straight win after getting upset at Wisconsin-Eau Claire last month.

The Johnnies are 4-0 in the MIAC, with the Tommies and St. Olaf at 3-0 in league play.

"I get it's a rival game, love and respect that," said Tommie football coach Glen Caruso on his WCCO radio postgame show on Saturday. "But at the end of the day, it's two really good football teams that are going to play a football game, and that's what I like best about it."

Caruso will have his team praticing several times this week on the stadium's natural grass field, which was recently re-sodded.

The Johnnie-Tommie winner in recent years has given the winner a leg up in the race for the league's automatic bid to the Division III national tournament.

There's added drama this time around after St. Thomas was expelled from the MIAC for what presidents of the league's schools say is "athletic competitive parity."

Last month, it was announced that St. Thomas was invited to join the Division 1 Summit League, which doesn't sponsor football, with school officials continuing to pursue league options for the football team.

The apparent move to Division I puts in jeopardy the continuation of one of the nation's top college football rivalries.

RELATED: The move to D-1 for St. Thomas

The Johnnie-Tommie game has drawn record crowds in recent years, including an all-time national mark of 37,355 to Target Field in 2017.

Games between the rivals at Clemens Stadium in Collegeville have drawn huge crowds, including the 16,922 last year when St. John's ended the Tommies' four-game winning streak in the series less than a week after the death of legendary coach John Gagliardi.

St. Thomas' outster from the MIAC, which the St. Paul-based school helped found 100 years ago, takes affect after the 2020-21 school year.

That means next season's game in Collegeville could be the last between the schools on the football field.

St. Thomas coach Glen Caruso said earlier this year he had been talking with Johnnies coach Gary Fasching about ways to  keep the series alive, but that might be all but impossible with the schools playing in different classifications.

 

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