A Berry good Saturday
By Marcus Fitzsimmons | (email@example.com)
Berryably I say to unto to you, give unto Rome that which is Rome’s.
While the airwaves and digital babblefield is awash with UT’s upcoming plight against No.2 Oregon and enough Johnny Football references to choke a memorabilia dealer, don’t miss the fact that Saturday Maryville College and Berry College both set good omens down in Rome, Ga.
The Scots opened the season with a win for the first time in several seasons, and while it was against a program that was playing its first ever football game and a team all of four weeks old, MC worked almost as nearly freshman on what is still a very young Maryville team and still put up a 37-0 shutout.
By the fourth quarter MC could have worked the starters and made it beyond ugly, but the Scots brain trust showed the long-term goal orientation that put them in the position to tie for the USA South championship last season when Game 10 rolled around and worked the 2s, 3s, and 4s.
It was a two-for that let Maryville get some very needed game-speed work for reserves and promising freshman while also letting the immense crowd by Division III standards go home still hungry for a Berry score but not — in most cases — agitated over piling on in the program’s first loss.
Berry good things
The highly-pro Vikings crowd was inspirational. Even MC president Dr. Tom Bogart was impressed by the fanfare Berry generated in the opening that used up almost every one of the 6,000 printed tickets not counting students and those entering — not to say sneaking — through the rather porous entrances on the visiting side of Barron Stadium on Saturday.
As oximoronish as it may sound, Berry had so much to be inspired by in a shutout loss. The Vikings had a packed house, a great environment and a team that while young, never quit and never had to inspire its fans for support. Those are incredibly valuable assets in D3 for any program.
Coach K knows he has a long road ahead of him with the first Berry team, but it’s inconceivable he’ll have to wait 20 games for his first Berry win like he did as defensive coordinator for LaGrange when the Panthers waited two full seasons for their first victory.
When in Rome
What’s more, the Berry College fans brought big school tailgating to the small parking lots of downtown Rome. Barron Stadium — which host a lower-tier championship game — found itself near ill-equipped to handle Saturday’s turnout of the horned-cap and happy. The Scots crowd found themselves squeezing into pockets of a visitors stand rated at 2,000 seats as the Berry overflow was sent from the homeside to find spaces amongst the Orange & Garnet in waves.
And everyone got along — almost.
I don’t know who the person was that left the Berry pom poms and three beer cans beneath my car Saturday night. I can’t swear they are responsible for the large puncture in the tire on the lone car bearing a Tennessee license plate in that small parking lot by the river. I can’t even say for certain that it was beer and not it biologically refined by product that made the puddle beneath the drivers door on said vehicle.
And while I could wish that some lone fan had a better handle on their anger management or chemical inconvenience issues, I won’t and don’t blame the Vikings. Every fan I met Saturday and spent a moment with around the stadium or in the lines to enter — Scot or Viking — was a fan and happy to share a Saturday with all those who wished to gather in the congregation of D3 football.
I will say thank you to the fisherman who flipped on their lights as I battled one of the more poorly devised car jacks ever created by a car company — this one in particular producing a workout worthy of its rhyming partner Jane Fonda.
In all, it was very, Berry good Saturday.
Marcus Fitzsimmons is sports editor at The Daily Times. You can follow him on Twitter @TDT_Sports.