ND wins, so these Irish eyes are smilin'

September 14, 2004|by TIM KOELBLE

By now, school officials at the University of Michigan should be looking at future schedules for when it has Notre Dame as the Fighting Irish's home opener.

Saturday's stunning victory by Notre Dame over Michigan was the third straight loss suffered by that northern school when it was the home opener for the Golden Dome boys.

I'll be the first to admit, even as a staunch Notre Dame fan, that "Fighting" has been missing from the Irish nickname during the past 10 years.

Unfortunately, we've had to resort to single big-game victories such as Saturday's to at least have that feeling of success, even if it has the tag of "that victory makes our season."


What other reason would have led us to believe a victory was possible after the 11-yard rushing performance the Saturday prior in a loss at Brigham Young, a game Notre Dame officials got moved up in the schedule in order to get a game under their belt and ready for Michigan?

It wasn't like the debut of former Notre Dame greats Joe Montana, Joe Theismann and others, but a running back that didn't even play against BYU came to the forefront in Irish football lore, leading the come-from-behind win.

He was freshman Darius Walker, who rushed for than 100 yards and scored two touchdowns in the fourth period when Michigan was seeing the fade on its Maize and Blue. Now, we'll wait and see how much more we see of this young player.

If not for one week, the victory gave us all the hope that the season just might not be lost, to look forward to Saturday's game at Michigan State, another team that has had Notre Dame's number over recent years.

It also, for at least this week, allowed Notre Dame to reclaim the title as the winningest program in college football history with a 74.567 percentage as Michigan dropped to second at 74.540.

For one week, as I am emphasizing, it is good to be a Notre Dame fan!

More Saturday fanfare

The early part of my Saturday prior to the Notre Dame-Michigan game was spent at St. James School as the Saints opened their season against Maryland School for Deaf.

It was a case of seeing each team playing for the first time since I've been in this area and the first time I'd had been on the campus at St. James, quite a pleasant setting as it is.

While the Saints were shut out by a more experienced MSD unit, there seemed to be an aura of optimism among those in attendance. And despite the lopsided score, there was not a lack of vocal support for the Saints.

When I saw Saints coach Chick Meehan on the sidelines, I immediately noticed the cap, short sleeve shirt and tie. Thought of two coaches right away (and obviously on warm days) - Ohio State's Woody Hayes and Penn State's Joe Paterno, who each wore similar garb on gameday.

And, it is amazing how the coaches and players from MSD are able to communicate with hand signals and understand their assignments. One thing is certain, MSD has some definite talent that I would take on my team at any time.

The first step

In Frederick County, the first-year Tuscarora Titans were level with a 1-1 record after a victory over Boonsboro Friday night, beginning a quest to what coaches and players felt in the preseason was possible - five victories.

"We were ecstatic," coach Shawn Carey said Monday. "The kids played hard and they are very happy with the win. But, the time to celebrate was Saturday and now it is back to work, getting ready for Smithsburg."

College football, high school football - you gotta love it!

Tim Koelble is a staff writer for The Herald-Mail. His column appears every other Tuesday. He can be reached at 301-733-5131, ext. 2311, or by e-mail at

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