My last game as a Charger in 1993 against Pat Riepma and Northwood (#43)
As I followed the action coming from Muddy Waters Stadium on Saturday, a whole bunch of old memories came flooding back from 21 years ago.
21 years. It doesn’t seem possible that so much time has passed since I played my last game for Hillsdale. Heck, I was barely 21 at the time.
It had to be the fact that there were so many similarities between my last game and Saturday, despite the difference in years, that got me to thinking.
In 1993, we were playing Northwood. We had a road finale ahead of us at Wayne State just like this club does. It was cold and damp
Hillsdale great Pat Riepma was making his first appearance at Muddy Waters Stadium as Northwood’s head coach in 1993. On Saturday he made his first appearance since 2008 at Muddy Waters Stadium as Northwood’s head coach. After spending five years as just athletic director he resumed the reins of the football program a year ago. Pat Riepma alos happens to be one my favorite people I had the privilege to play for at Hillsdale. 1992 was his final season as the Chargers’ offensive coordinator.
The 1993 Northwood game was Senior Day as well. We didn’t get introduced with our parents but they did introduce the seniors. It would be the only time I would hear my name called by Park Hayes over the public address system during my entire career. I made a tackle on the final play of the game that day but I was so emotional after it, I wasn’t paying attention to the stadium announcer. I had a handful of other tackles sprinkled in there through the years but they were many pile hoppers and I wasn’t getting my name called for those.
The only thing I didn’t know about that Saturday in Hillsdale was that it would be the last time I would take the field. The following week, I was on the travel roster to Wayne State but when we neared game time in Detroit, Coach Lowry told me a previously injured player had felt good enough to go in warm ups and that I needed to get back into my travel attire and stand on the sidelines. I was player #56 that day on the 55 man squad. It might have been one of the lowest points personally for me at Hillsdale, but over the years that sting has greatly faded while all of the high points have greatly amplified.
The way my career ended the previous week in a Hollywood kind of way (details on the ABOUT page) feels like it was just a couple of years ago not 21 years ago. When Daniel Pittman picked off that pass Saturday to ice the game in his final appearance in those royal blue home uniforms, I was relieved this one was in the bag but so happy that in 21 years there will be a guy who will be able to replay his last play of his last home game with the same sweetness I still do mine.
Heck, the sweetness of one play plays a big role in giving me the passion and the energy to keep Chargerblue.com the oldest continuously running Division II fansite on the Web.
Good luck guys. Let’s get a big win in Detroit to end this season on an even higher note.