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Pack the Stadium: It’s Wittenberg Week

Jim Amidon — I want to draw your attention to the Little Giant football team, which on Saturday will host North Coast Athletic Conference behemoth Wittenberg University. The rivalry between those Tigers and the Little Giants has become — dare I say — almost as big as Wabash’s rivalry with those other Tigers of DePauw.

Sure, the Monon Bell Classic will always be the big game on Wabash’s schedule. But since Wabash joined the NCAC and DePauw the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference, the Bell game is different.

What gives the Wabash football team a purpose is the NCAC championship and the automatic berth the conference champs receive to the Division III playoffs. In most of the last 20 years, the team that has won the league title had to beat Wittenberg to get to the playoffs.

So while there will still be games to play in the NCAC after this Saturday, it’s safe to say the winner of the Wabash vs. Wittenberg game will be the team to beat in the league.

Wittenberg comes to Crawfordsville this weekend with a nifty 4-1 record and 2-0 mark in the league. After being shutout in their opener, the Tigers have reeled off four straight wins, including a 73-0 whomping of Earlham last week.

Wabash won its third road game Saturday by beating the Gators of Allegheny 28-20, raising the Little Giants’ record to 5-0 and 3-0 in league play.

If you didn’t have this week’s showdown marked on your calendar in August — and many people did — put it on your calendar today and plan to be at Byron P. Hollett Little Giant Stadium this Saturday at 1 p.m.

The Little Giants need your help this week, too. It’s fall break on campus, so many of the die-hard student supporters of the team will have gone home for a mid-semester break before the stretch run to final exams.

When a team as good as Wittenberg comes calling, you’d like to think you’ll have home field advantage. The folks in this community can certainly do their part by suiting up in anything Wabash red you have and showing up ready to be loud and proud in support of the Little Giants this Saturday.

If you come, you’ll see two of the winningest college football programs in the country; two programs with long and distinguished histories.

You’ll see two of the best-coached small college teams in the nation, who are bitter conference rivals playing every play as though it was the last play of the season.

You’ll see Wabash try to avenge last year’s 19-17 loss in Springfield, a game in which the Little Giants missed a short game-winning field goal as time ran out.

You’ll also see All-American linebacker Adi Pynenberg (left) and his defensive teammates trying to slow down a Wittenberg offense that has averaged over 600 yards and 60 points per game in its last two victories.

You can check out Wabash’s first-year starting quarterback, Matt Hudson (above right), whose family is from Crawfordsville, as he takes on his biggest challenge yet since stepping in for injured senior Dustin Huff. Hudson and the young Wabash offense will need to grow up quickly for Wabash to stay in the driver’s seat for the North Coast championship.

There are all sorts of reasons to be a fan of the Little Giants this weekend. But if you still need a reason, show up Saturday in support of the Wabash football team as a way of demonstrating your pride in the coaches and players who do so much for the youth of our community.

It’s October and football is in the air. The Little Giants are undefeated and mighty Wittenberg is coming to town. Show your heart, show your spirit, and come ready to be loud and proud for the Little Giants. And remember, Wabash Always Fights!