Merry Christmas Gorillas Fans
By Brian Hague
Posted: December 24, 2011 - 11:28 AM
‘Twas the night before Christmas, two-thousand-eleven,
And Gorilla fans felt as if they were in heaven,
For their favorite team had just pulled off a coup:
Finishing off as the Champs of D2!
Yes, after two seasons we’d sooner forget,
The ’11 Gorillas were among the best yet,
Ranking with teams from Pitt State’s glory days;
The prior two years were now but a mere haze.
The year started off with us pounding MoWest,
As our boys proved to all they were up to the test.
And after convincingly beating the Griffs,
The fans were imagining playoff “what-ifs.”
Next up were the Hornets, and they too went down,
In front of past champions who’d come to town.
Then, off to Kirksville, where we all got a fright,
But the mighty Gorillas put up a great fight,
They proved this team’s mettle, and forged a comeback,
And finished the game with their season on track:
Three and oh, with a home game against Billy Jewell,
That turned out to be something less than a duel.
The next test was Arrowhead, versus the ‘Cats,
Who were putting up impressive offensive stats.
The first quarter looked like a blowout was brewing,
But our coaches and players knew what they were doing.
They made their adjustments, and shut the ‘Cats down,
While the offense showed there’s a new sheriff in town.
As time ran out, Chase McCoy stepped on the field,
Nailing a field goal, and vict’ry was sealed.
We’d broken the ‘Cats string of seven straight wins,
And the Gorilla faithful could not hide their grins.
We jumped in the polls, but the team did not rest;
For they had their sights set on being the best
In all of D2. So they practiced their plays,
And readied themselves for a road trip to Hays.
The Tigers put up a good fight for awhile,
But by third quarter’s end, there was reason to smile.
Lincoln was next up, the league’s bottom-dweller.
In front of a Homecoming crowd, we were stellar.
Scoring early and often, we sent Lincoln packing,
And proved that in putting up points, we weren’t lacking.
A road trip to Central was next in the offing –
By now, our opponents were no longer scoffing.
The Mules brought a formidable air attack,
But our defense manhandled their poor quarterback.
In our first complete game against good opposition,
We firmly established our rightful position
Among the elite of the MIAA;
Clearly, this season was going our way.
Next came a clash with the once-beaten ‘Bods;
They’d lost bad to Northwest, and we liked our odds.
But they stymied our offense, and tested our D,
With their dinks and their dunks, they went on quite a spree.
We battled and fought, but it wasn’t enough –
At the end of the game, we had lost. It was tough.
Our fans were discouraged, but it wasn’t that bad;
A share of the conference crown still could be had.
We just had to beat our arch-rival, MoSo,
Then into the playoffs the co-champs would go.
We dump-trucked the Tigers to finish the season,
Then Washburn gave Pitt State fans all the more reason
To celebrate, picking up their second loss
To Central – and Pitt was the conference’s boss!
The trophy was given to dear PSU,
But our boys were aware there was still work to do.
The playoffs! A first-round bye, then a home game
Versus Washburn. Would this outcome turn out the same?
No, we’d made our adjustments, on O and on D;
The game plan was perfect, it fit to a T.
We started off shaky, but then shut them down,
And gave them a healthy dose of Mr. Brown.
His receivers all covered, poor Dane Simoneau,
Facing Toca and friends, he had nowhere to go.
We’d avenged our one loss, notched our first playoff win,
But now faced the hated Bearcats once again.
Revenge on their minds, they had beat MSU,
And the “Road Dogs” were thinking they’d beat Pitt State, too.
Another slow start, with our team in a hole,
But our players and coaches were fixed on a goal.
Again we adjusted, again battled hard,
One play at a time, fighting for ev’ry yard.
Again we unleashed Mr. Brown on the ‘Cats
(The young lad was putting up Harlon Hill stats.)
Again our defense pressured, and covered well,
And by the fourth quarter, our faithful could tell
That vic’try was ours, by a margin so wide
Momentum was clearly on Pittsburg State’s side.
We’d won the MIAA, we’d won the region,
Much to the delight of the PSU legion.
But great as that was, it was not quite enough:
Our boys faced a team that was known to be tough.
Last year’s runner-up, and this year’s Number One
For much of the season. Our work wasn’t done.
To Carnie Smith Stadium came Delta State,
Bringing visions of fried Okra heaped on a plate.
The Statesmen brought “Southern speed;” was our team ready?
Their Harlon Hill finalist QB was steady.
But we treated him just like poor Dane Simoneau,
Leaving him no one to whom he could throw.
A fourth goal-line stand, for now the third week
Proved our defense’s strength. We were on a hot streak.
We feasted on Okra, then relished the sound
Of “Sweet Home Alabama” – we were Florence-bound!
The man from the Shoals asked Coach Beck to join in it,
But our leader answered, “We’re going to win it!”
Hordes of Gorilla fans made the long trip
To ‘Bama, in hopes that the Warriors we’d whip.
D2’s Cinderella team had quite a story,
And had their sights set on attaining the glory
Of winning the Divison 2 title game,
And seeing the record books etched with their name.
At the Marriott Shoals, team and fans celebrated;
The Gorilla Nation was simply elated.
But, come the next morning, the task was at hand,
To prove Pittsburg State was the best in the land.
Wayne State came to play, running back the first kick
For a touchdown. Could this team accomplish the trick?
They hadn’t expected an invite to come,
But once in the playoffs, they proved doubters dumb,
Winning thrice on the road, versus higher-ranked teams.
Now leading the title game, harboring dreams
Of winning it all. But Zac Dickey and crew
Never lost sight of what they had set out to do.
After last season’s bowl win, then into the spring,
And through the long summer, they’d eyed the brass ring.
The Gorillas roared back, with Paul Robinson’s pick
Setting the stage for an Eric Love trick –
Fifteen yards to the end zone, untouched and in stride,
And just two minutes into the game, we were tied.
The fans, they were loud; Mickey fumbled the snap,
And Cody Moore pulled the ball into his lap.
A Chase McCoy field goal would give us the lead,
But the game was not over; more points we would need.
For the Warriors, they answered, and went up again.
By first quarter’s end, we were down 14-10.
We rallied back, marching the ball down the field,
But Wayne State’s defense was refusing to yield.
Again McCoy stepped in; we settled for three,
And as we’d done all season, played patiently.
The Warriors fought back, moving inside our ten,
And our defense was faced with a challenge again.
First down: two yards. Second down: not an inch.
Our defense again had come through in a pinch.
Mickey’s pass fell incomplete to the ground;
Pitt fans, how they cheered! How loud was the sound!
Wayne’s coach wisely opted to settle for three,
Rather than chance a stop by Pitt State’s D.
Then, off the edge, Paul Robinson roared,
Herrion scooped it, he ran and he scored!
The Gorillas were back on top, 20-14,
On a play that went bad for the boys clad in green.
But the game wasn’t over, our lads could not rest,
For they knew that the Warriors could give them a test.
Wayne State got the ball back, but our boys were ready,
And on the first series our defense held steady.
Brown fielded the punt for the Crimson and Gold,
And down the field Dickey and Company rolled.
A long pass to Brown got us most of the way,
And we capped off the scoring drive with a sweet play,
A pass to a wide-open Bristan was caught;
Wayne State’s dreams of leading at half went for naught.
The third quarter came and went without a score;
Could a national championship be in store?
Wayne State had other ideas, and fought back,
Adding a touchdown, now just six points back.
But we weren’t content to let Wayne State back in it;
As Coach Beck had said, we had come here to win it.
Coach Rampy was gutsy, and made the bold call
For Dickey to throw Castaneda the ball
Fifty-three yards down the field, to the five,
Leaving Wayne’s title dreams barely alive.
Spradling found pay-dirt, but we weren’t yet through;
Zac hit Castaneda next, tacking on two.
A fourteen-point lead with two minutes to play
Seemed enough, but the Warriors weren’t going away.
They got a first down, then they went for the throat –
But Mickey’s deep pass was picked off by the GOAT!
We got a first down, and then Zac took a knee,
Once, then again, then kneel-down number three.
The Gorillas were champions of all D2!
And now there was much celebrating to do!
Coach Beck got the trophy as fans stormed the field,
And this team had proven they just would not yield
Until they’d accomplished their ultimate aim:
Winning the national championship game.
After two disappointments, in oh-nine and ten,
The Gorillas were national champs once again.
Vict’ry was sweet; it had been quite a year,
As all through the season, the fans, they did cheer:
“On Dickey! On Thomas! On Toca and Brown!
On Dreiling! On Stringer! On Wilson! First down!
On Robinson, Olabode, Worthington, White!
On Spradling and Jones!” And with all of their might,
For the heroes, both sung and un-sung, they did cheer
For giving us all such a mem’rable year,
And the title for which all Gorilla fans yearn
(And hopes that to ‘Bama next year we’d return).
And yes, even Santa showed up at the game,
To watch the Gorillas achieve D2 fame.
And I heard him exclaim, as he drove out of sight:
“Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!”