Thank You

2011 d2 Football National Champions! Pretty darn cool, huh?

I’ve never really necessarily understood the word surreal. It’s a hard word to define.

Today, after the game ended I experienced surreal.

1991 was pandemonium. Today the feeling was that of a completed journey. Excitement of course but it’s different. This team is different.

My biggest emotion is appreciation. I appreciate the opportunity to watch this team.

Coach Beck’s “one game at a time” and “get better every week” messages got us to this moment.

Now all I can say is “Thank You” to this 2011 team. Our fans appreciate the ride.

Pancakes and Spaghetti

Early afternoon at the Marriott in Florence.   Cool and rainy, but the rain is predicted to move out later today. At game time tomorrow the temperature is suppose to be in the low 40’s with little to no wind.  More importantly there is currently zero percent chance of rain.

Sitting here in the hotel lobby, watching people roll into town.  Lots of  excitement.  I did the same thing in 2004, watching road-weary but excited Gorilla fans arrive at the team hotel.

This morning Pitt State helps kick-off the “Shoals Championship Reading Initiative” in Alabama!  The video was complied by PSU Marketing and Communications Videographer Jacob Anselmi.  If you do not subscribe to Pitt State’s Youtube channel you should.

After the school trips, the team went to have their head shots and interviews for ESPN.

Now they are at their Friday morning walk-thru.

I asked a coach yesterday how much this trip has affected the routine for the players.  They responded, “really not that much as far as football is concerned.”  Also the coaches have had their prep work done and have stayed on schedule despite the hectic week.

Tonight after they return from practice, the team resumes their normal road schedule.  Dinner, meetings, etc.

Everything except for the wakeup call tomorrow morning.  With a 10 AM start-time, their wake-call will be 5:15 AM.  Pre-game meal is always four hours before kickoff, so it will be a short night, or early morning for both teams.

Imagine trying to get to sleep the night before you play in the National Championship.

The team has pretty much eaten the same pre-game meal for years, independent of meal time.

Coach Beck was quoted earlier in the week “Some will eat Pancakes, some will eat Spaghetti.”

The players don’t care about the meal, although I am sure each one of them eats the same thing each and every week.

This players might be hungry at 6 AM but I guarantee you they will be focused and ready to play come kickoff at  10 AM.

See you there.

Go Gorillas!

Focus

Greeting from Florence, Alabama!

I type this on my iPhone from the lobby of the Marriott. Technology is a wonderful thing.

The flight down from Joplin was 55 minutes. We actually sat on the ground in before take off and after landing longer than we were in the air. As we were getting off the plane the airplane attendant commented this was the most polite team they have worked with in a long time. (all they do is team charters)

A few observations since arriving at the airport until now:

Business Trip. From the dress of the coaches (shirt and tie) and players, to the tone of everyone directly involved this trip is not a leisure one.

The game is over two days away but last night and even this morning this team knows they are here to do a job.

Hospitality. There is nothing like Southern Hospitality. When we arrived, there was a fleet of highway patrol and they gave the buses a big-time escort to the hotel. Everywhere the buses travel they are escorted. The people here are so nice, and so excited the Gorillas are in town.

Focus. This team is focused. Really focused. This business trip has a purpose. This team emulates its head coach and after the game Tim Beck made it clear the purpose of this trip.

“We are going to play for the National Championship. We are going to WIN a National Championship.”

Yep, Focus.

A New Shirt

1991 Championship shirt design by Phil Dellasega for US Awards

 

Like many of you, I have been a Pitt State Football fan since I was in elementary school.  I remember listening to Tom Van Hoy and Tom McNally broadcast the 1981 game on KSEK radio.

Like many of you, I have aquired quite a collection of Pitt State memoribelia, espcially t-shirts over the years.   One shirt stands out as my all time favorite, the 1991 National Champion shirt.

In 1991 I was a junior at Pitt State.  My family road the bus to Florence, leaving at 9 PM from the Weede parking lot.  I remember standing outside waiting to board the bus as we were listening to KKOW broadcast the Harlan Hill award  announcement when they announced Ronnie West as the winner.

The bus ride was gruling, but the game was something I will never forget.  Everything about it was great.  Lee Greenwood sang “God Bless the USA”, paratroopers brought in the game ball, and most of all the Pittsburg State Gorillas beat the Jacksonville Gamecocks 23-6

Pittsburg was electric for weeks.  The game was played a week earlier then, December 11, and everyone who sold National Champion gear had a great Christmas.  Everyone got Pitt State stuff for Christmas.

At that time US Awards designed and sold Pitt State gear.  My uncle Phil Dellasega at the time was a part owner and designer.  Phil is a great artist and his shirt design to this day is my favorite Pitt State shirt of all time.

It was my favorite for many reasons.  I think artistically the Gorilla and the design was awesome.  It represents the only National title Pitt State has won (to date) in my lifetime.  And of course the final reason is my uncle Phil designed the shirt.

But its time for another Pitt State Championship.  Its been 20 years. (wow that means I am 40 years old!) Pitt State has played in the title game three times since, coming up short each time.

This is the year.  In addition to the 20th anniversary of the ‘91 team, it ts also the 50th anniversary of the 1961 team.

Coach Broyles won the title in his second year as head coach.  Coach Beck is in his second season.  In 1991 Brian Hutchins, a Pittsburg native was the QB.  This year Zac Dickey, another Pittsburg native, leads the offense.

The title is there for the Gorillas taking.    One more great performance and the 2011 D2 National Championship trophy will be in Pittsburg, Kansas.

And, then I can get that new shirt I am needing.

See you in Florence.

Go Gorilla!

We are going to Disneyland

Job well done

Last week at the post game press conference, Teamkong columnist Greg Grisolano asked QB Zac Dickey what he thinks about when he sees Brown streaking past defenders in the secondary.  He said, “Maybe I could compare it to some crazy ride at Disneyland,” he said. “When you see him streaming open and you know that you can get the ball to him. Yeah, it’s a great feeling.”

In his weekly column, Greg asked Gorillas Fans to use #goingtodisneyland on Twitter, using Zac’s metaphor for his touchdown combo with John Brown.  This combo has been outstanding this postseason.  But really is one story of many this team has written.

Zac’s ability to lead is evident and well documented.  He is well-spoken and will forever be an ambassador for Gorilla Football.  If he wins one more game, he may never buy a beer in Pittsburg again.  John Brown has already achieved legendary status in less than one season.

I read everything which is written about this team.  I watch PSU Athletics’ video of every press conference, and have attended all three post game pressers.  The message is clear.  Nate Dreiling, Zach Dickey and the entire team mirror the message of Tim Beck.  

There has always been one goal.

In order to achieve this goal, the next game is the most important game.  Tim Beck has preached this all season long, and now we are here.  The FINAL game.

This team has IT. What ever IT is, the 2011 Gorillas have IT.  Tonight was a magical environment.  Maybe the best I have ever experience at Carnie Smith Stadium.

Back to this Disneyland metaphor.  I am taking it another step and need your help.  The 2011 Gorillas are taking us back to Alabama.

Alabama IS OUR DISNEYLAND. Let’s enjoy the ride, its going to be fun.

If you tweet, all week please, #goingtoDisneyland

Go Gorillas!

Lights, Camera, Action!

I remember walking away from the season opener against Missouri Western and everyone was saying “Either we are really good, or they are really bad.”

That was September 1st.  That was 100 days ago.  Since that day we have learned that the Griffons had a pretty good playoff season.  They made the playoffs and nearly pulled off a second victory against Northwest this year.

Think of that first game.  A 6 PM kick off.  By 6:10 Gorilla Nation was introduced to John Brown with his 84 yard kickoff return.  The Gorillas Offense rushed for 312 yards.  Zach Dickey completed 64% of his passes.  The defense had two interceptions and only gave up 191 yards.  All of this lead to a 34-7 dominant victory.

From that game we should all have know todays semi-final was going to happen.  Well, maybe not but looking back it is evident this team has had ‘IT’ from Day 1.  That game was a summary of pretty much our entire season.

Win or Lose tomorrow this had been a great season.  The Tim Beck 2011 Gorillas have put Pitt State Football back in the discussion as one of the top programs in d2 football.  They have given us three extra ‘Holidays in Pittsburg, KS.’

Now that we are here, in the semi-finals why not take the next step? * #going to disneyland

I have been extremely impressed every time I hear the Gorillas players speak to the media.  It seems every player has bought in to Tim Beck’s message “Take this one game at a time.  Your most important game is this game.  Get better every day”  This consistent message has rung all season long from everyone in the program.

In fact, interview Coach Beck, Zac Dickey, Nate Dreiling, Gus Toca, its does not matter.  They all say the same thing.  This is a focused team.  This is a team who forever will be remembered for placing Pitt State Football back to where it belongs, in the national spotlight.

Tomorrow night on ESPN 3 (and unfortunately KSN) the Gorillas face Delta State.  A seasoned team.  A team who played for all the marbles last year and lost on a late field goal.  They return a QB who is a Harlan Hill finalist.  They have a stable of running backs and they are huge up front on both sides of the ball.  On paper they are outstanding.

But when the lights come on (and ESPN brought in extra lights, it will be bright) and the ball is teed up at 6:05 PM I fully expect to see a team just as focused today as it was 101 days ago.  This team has a job to finish.  They will be ready.

As fans we have to be ready.  If you do not have a ticket get there and buy one tomorrow.  Call a neighbor or a friend and bring them along.  Be there to watch history.

Hopefully, if things go like they are suppose towe will hear “Sweet Home Alabama” when the clock strikes ZERO.

Go Gorillas.

* In the post-game press conference last week TK Columnist Greg Grisolano asked Zac what it was like walking up to the line knowing John Brown was going to be wide open.  He said “Like some crazy ride at Disneyland.”  So this week we have been using the hashtag #goingtodisneyland  on Gorilla tweets.  I am taking it a step further.  Our ‘Disneyland’ is Florence, Alabama.  Zac and his Gorillas are going to get us there.  If you TWEET, help trend the hashtag.

Twelve Months

One year ago this week the Pitt State Gorillas were preparing for the Mineral Water Bowl (MWB). They were 5-6 and many fans were critical that Pitt State would even want to play in the post-season. They were “embarrassed to go to a bowl with a losing record.”

Coach Beck was quick to say leading up to the Mineral Water Bowl how important this was for his new program. An additional month of practice for his young team plus an opportunity to end the season at 6-6.

The Gorilla coaches and players made the most out of the month of practice. They recruited for 2011, but also gave players lots of reps which translated to experience for this year.

The Gorillas played well in the MWB and finished the season with a win. Coach Beck restated again after the game how important this game was to springboard the Gorillas into the 2011 season.

Think about it. The 2011 Gorillas are team led by its defense. If you compare the defense that played in the MWB to the defense which played today you will find they are very similar. Really the entire team is very similar with a few key additions.

Today at the press conference Coach Beck again talked about the MWB and the growth of this team over the course of twelve months.

Last year Coach Beck told us how close he felt this team was to turning the corner. Most fans heard it but didn’t buy it. They were skeptical.

Then we open the season with a dominating win against Missouri Western. After the game many fans asked, “Are we that good, or were they that bad?” Mo West was a playoff team and beat Northwest this year. The 2011 Gorillas indeed proved to us they are pretty darn good.

Looking back, I am glad the MWB selected the Gorillas and glad they made the most of the opportunity.

This years Gorillas are 10-1 and now hosting a 3rd round playoff game.

Quite a jump in twelve months.

Go Gorillas!