The Gridiron Gettysburg Address

Four score and seven years ago, our forefather Dobie brought forth on this continent, a proud football program, conceived in toughness, and dedicated to the proposition that you must be able to play stout defense and run the football in order to win.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war; testing whether that football team, or any football team so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great football field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place to the memory of those Huskies who have sacrificed and out-muscled opponents of the past, so that this football program might thrive today. Tough Purple and Gold trench warriors and hard hitters like Ray Frankowski, Paul Schwegler, Chuck Allen, Rick Redman, Calvin Jones, Doug Martin, Bill Stapleton, Mark Stewart, Tim Meamber, Jimmy Rodgers, Ron Holmes, Dan Eernissee, Joe Kelly, Ink Aleaga, Bern Brostek, Ed Cunningham, Steve Emtman, Jaime Fields, Tommie Smith, Rickey Andrews, Lawyer Malloy, Tony Parrish, Benji Olson, Olin Kruetz, Dominic Daste and Chad Ward. We also remember the fourteen Rose Bowls and over twenty conference championships. It is altogether fitting and proper that we do this.

But, in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate -- we cannot consecrate -- we cannot hallow -- this ground. The brave Huskies, living and dead, who valiantly struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what these Huskies did here.

Rather it is for us current fans, coaches and players, to be dedicated to the unfinished work, which they who played here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task before us, to restore the powerful running game and swarming defense for which Husky teams have always been known. From the final carnage of this California debacle, we look not to kick the coaches and players while they are down, but rather to spur them on to greater achievement. We know that these players are proficient at throwing the football, and we take great delight in seeing the pigskin oscillating through the smoke-filled air.

But a great crisis has ensued across the land, with the realization that we tread lightly when run-blocking. That schematic breakdowns rear their ugly heads when we have the opponent third and long. That there exists a propensity for cringe-inducing turnovers, which have been our great undoing this season.

Sobered we are by the great realization that we no longer hold any discernable strength advantage over other Pac-10 teams. We shall thus go forth, doing what we can, with what we have, where we are.

There is also that old parable of the 15th-century sea Captain that brought his ship ashore to an island. They were going to do battle with the inhabitants and take it over for their mother country. When everyone was off the boat, the soldiers looked on in horror as the Captain ordered the boat to be burnt and sunk into the sea. When in gasping befuddlement they asked the Captain why he did this, he told them:

"I did it so you will know that retreating and going back home is no longer an option. We absolutely must win with everything that we have, together, or we will die. The choice is yours."

We thus call upon Kenny James to be given an opportunity to carry the football. For what is this cherished redshirt saved? His extra quickness might make a discernable difference in countering our opponent's attempts to stuff the run. We can further spread the field and try to give him the ball on sprint draws and toss sweeps. His unique talent might be a nice compliment to that of Alexis and Cleman. It is true that in four years we may cringe from this decision. But the Husky Nation cringes right now, for our running game is under siege and for rushing yardage we are starving.

The annals of history are laden with examples of slow starts that lead to great finishes. Standing here today upon this hallowed ground, we look to call upon the energies and spirits of all Huskies past. They are needed now.

From these honored players of the past, we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion. We resolve that these past players shall not have sacrificed in vain. For as Hannibal said, "We shall either find a way, or make one."

We resolve that this once-powerful Husky football program, under the capable Coach Neuheisel, shall have a new birth of freedom, and that a football team of the people, by the people, for the people (at least in Western Washington), shall not perish from the earth.
Derek Johnson can be reached at Top Stories