|Louis Berry has scored six touchdowns this season for Mount Union, as a defensive back.
Photo by Dan Poel, Ohiosi.com
By Noah Hiles
From the first day he stepped on the practice field as a freshman, other members of the Mount Union secondary could tell that cornerback Louis Berry was destined to have an exciting career. Standing at 5-7 and weighing in at 170 pounds, Berry won't stand out from a size standpoint, but he has routinely found a way to leave a giant impact for the Purple Raiders.
Last week in its quarterfinal matchup against Muhlenberg, Mount Union found itself in an unfamiliar spot, leading by only 10 points late in the third quarter. With an offense that was struggling to find its rhythm, it became clear that the Purple Raider defensive unit needed to step up and help their team gain complete control in the second half. Sure enough, it was Berry that rose to the challenge, returning his sixth interception of the season for a touchdown to give Mount Union a 24-10 lead which it would never surrender, winning by a final score of 38-10.
The touchdown was Berry’s fourth pick-six this season and the sixth of his collegiate career, a school record. Berry has also scored twice on two fumble returns. If you are on social media or watch ESPN, there is a good chance you’ve seen one of them.
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Ahead 16-10 with less than a minute remaining, Mount Union needed a big stop to hang on for a win over rival John Carroll at home on Sept. 22. As the Blue Streaks moved into Purple Raider territory, Berry took it upon himself to make sure there would be no upset. On second down, Berry blitzed around the left edge and delivered a clean hit on JCU quarterback Anthony Moeglin. Before Moeglin could fall to the turf, Berry had the presence of mind to strip the ball clean of his possession and then take it 45 yards untouched into the end zone. Following the game, the play went viral and was viewed by millions after being posted by numerous accounts on both Twitter and Instagram.
“He is just an all-around dominant athlete, really. He is always working to get better. That work ethic, along with his natural talent has translated to what he has done both on the track and on the football field.”
– Darrell Sullins, former Mount Union
“When it’s a clutch situation, Lou makes plays,” said Washington & Jefferson defensive backs coach, Kollyn Crenshaw, who was a teammate of Berry’s for three seasons at Mount Union. “You saw it on Saturday with his pick-six and you have seen it a lot before then.”
At halftime in the 2015 Stagg Bowl, Berry’s teammate, B.J. Mitchell recalled a moment where Berry, then a freshman, spoke to him about how he was frustrated from not being on the field once in the first two quarters. Berry then told Mitchell that if was given the opportunity in the second half that he would make a play.
Sure enough, he did.
In the fourth quarter, on the biggest stage possible, Berry not only made a play, but made the play to help Mount Union secure their 12th national championship after he intercepted St. Thomas quarterback Johnny Gould with 6:14 left in the fourth quarter. For Mitchell, that was the moment he saw the bright future that Berry had ahead of him.
“When you do something like that at such a young age, you have to be accustomed to making those game-changing plays,” said Mitchell. “Watching him now, since he has been doing it for so long, it looks like it is almost second nature for him. He has that playmaker mind-set along with the physical ability to make things happen.”
Two years later, and once again on the biggest stage possible, Berry delivered once more, intercepting a pass in the second half of last year’s Stagg Bowl to help Mount Union win its 13th national championship, defeating Mary Hardin-Baylor 12-0.
|Louis Berry takes the ball from John Carroll quarterback Anthony Moeglin and 45 yards later he was in the end zone.
Photo by Dan Poel, Ohiosi.com
Berry makes up for what he lacks in size with his combination of speed and knowledge of the game. To go along with the success he’s had in football, Berry has also excelled in two other places at Mount Union: the track and the classroom.
As if his two national championship rings from football were not enough, Berry is also a key contributor for the Mount Union men’s track and field team, who won the Division III title in both indoor and outdoor last season. Individually, Berry is a two time All-American for indoor track, where he finished second in the nation in the 60-meter dash with a time of 6.79 seconds last year. In his three years as a runner for the Purple Raiders, Berry has also earned a total of nine gold medals in OAC competition, seven by himself and two from relays.
For Darrell Sullins, who was one of the few Mount Union athletes that played with Berry on both the football and track teams, Berry’s dominance on the track over the past few years has become a must-see event.
“At our meets, when you would watch events like the 60 meter, 100 meter or 200 meter, it seemed like everyone else was competing for second,” said Sullins. “They knew that with Lou Berry being in those events, as fast as he is, that he is probably going to win.
“He is just an all-around dominant athlete, really,” said Sullins. “He is always working to get better. That work ethic, along with his natural talent has translated to what he has done both on the track and on the football field.”
Berry is also a standout in the classroom. As a senior marketing major, he has earned dean’s list honors twice and been named to the academic All-OAC team three times: twice for football and once for track. While his GPA is high, Berry’s intelligence is on display just as much on the football field as it is in his academic transcript.
The way Mitchell sees it, that more than anything else is what makes him so dominant.
“There are a lot of track guys who play football but most of them aren’t that noticeably fast,” said Mitchell. “Lou is what I like to call both track fast and football fast. He understands angles and when he needs to stop and start sprinting. He is able to reach his top speed quickly and then use his high football IQ to make a play when he gets to where he needs to be.”
A native of Pittsburgh, when Berry isn’t lifting weights, watching film or studying for an exam, you can find him back home supporting the Homewood Bulldogs, his neighborhood’s youth football program.
Mount Union declined to make Berry, or anyone else currently in the program, available to talk about Berry.
Berry had no choice but to let his play do the talking.