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Final Hurrah Draws Near for McAndrew
Give this Southern Illinois University football team credit; they know how to throw a party.
For a year, Nov. 14 has been a red-letter date on the Saluki calendar. It is the last regular season game scheduled at McAndrew Stadium. Beginning next year, the Salukis will play several hundred yards to the south at a new, but as of yet, unnamed stadium.
Even if the Salukis were mediocre, or even bad, Nov. 14 would have been a joyous occasion. Although it holds a lot of history, the outmoded McAndrew Stadium needs to be replaced.
SIU’s athletic department has been working diligently for months, trying to get past football heroes to return for The Mac’s last hurrah. At last count, more than 180 ex-players had promised to return.
It was apparent for some time Nov. 14 was going to be a great day, a memorable day for SIU fans.
However, this football team, which obviously has a sense of history and a flair for the dramatic, ratcheted up the excitement con-siderably Saturday with a sound beating of South Dakota State.
Just three weeks after doing the nearly impossible, earning a road victory at the University of Northern Iowa, the Salukis accom-plished something that had never been done - winning an MVFC game at South Dakota State.
The Jackrabbits have been in the league two years and no Valley team had ever won at Coughlin-Alumni Stadium.
The victory over the Jackrabbits secured the MVFC’s automatic bid in the College Playoff Subdivision postseason. It seemed as if the Salukis had created the ultimate best-case scenario for Saturday’s McAndrew finale.
The ante was raised higher Monday when the Salukis were ranked No. 1 in The Sports Network poll.
I’m not a huge believer in karma, but if the stars aren’t perfectly aligned now, they never will be. Even the Optimist Club couldn’t have dreamed up a better scenario for the McAndrew curtain-closer.
The only thing that could possibly be better is if Saluki fans come out in sufficient numbers to sell out the old stadium. That would make a believer of me. That would make Saturday quite possibly the second best day in Saluki football history.
Of course, amid all the hype, Dale Lennon has to keep the squad focused. They need to hold serve at home and take care of Southeast Missouri State in the season finale.
If the Salukis can do that, it’s reasonable for the squad to be one of the four-seeded teams and have home games throughout the playoffs.
That might be enough to put a smile on the stern-looking William McAndrew’s face.
Final hurrah draws near for McAndrew
By Les Winkeler, The Southern