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By: Mike Archbold, Posted 18 September 2002

My father is professor emeritus at Washington, and my mother, sister, her husband, and my brother each received degrees from Washington.  I became intoxicated at several Washington fraternity parties.  My alma mater is Central Washington.  Last week being a bye for the Dawgs, I decided to check up on Central's football team, which is in a little division of only four teams in NCAA Division II.

Twenty years ago I was on the team for three weeks, but it's a short and boring story, the climax being that I didn't show up one day and to my knowledge no one ever noticed.

Central played Carroll, which is an NAIA-division school perched spectacularly on a large-hill/small-mountain in Helena, Montana, home of the "Helena Hitman," Greg

Unable to talk my Carroll alum, best friend into going to the game (actually any friend I have is a default "best friend"), I made the 8 - 9 hour drive solo.  Parking was free and the ticket was $6 at the gate.

Small college football is fun.  It's serious business, like I-A ball, but has a unique character.  I loitered for a bit in the gym, where some players were warming up.  The guys were tall and looked to weigh 250 pounds on up.  Lest you think small college means small players... emphatically no. These guys were gigantic, had their game faces on, and definitely meant business.

I wished one player good luck, and he replied with thanks, but I could see he was clearly in game-mode and in no mood for idle chit-chat.  I did talk for a bit with a trainer, who told me about the Montana officials (below). The atmosphere seemed immediate, like meeting your favorite jazz musician at the bar just before he takes the stage.

Socrates observed that a man who experiences injustice might be driven to high emotion.  The Montana officials called every conceivable penalty short of untied shoelaces in the first half on Central.  Sneeze behind a player?  Clipping.  Pinch a jersey?  Holding. I soon began to lose my temper along with the twenty or so other CWU fans, most of us shouting various obvious recommendations to the local officials.
 At one point in the third quarter, a CWU player made a Greg-Carothers-hit on a Carroll runner, and I let out a PAC-10 scream that probably made its way up to Ted Kazinsky's cabin.  Good fun.

Central won the game by three TDs or so. I think about 150 yards were taken away from Central in penalties if you factor in the gain nullified and the subsequent subtracted yardage, so really Central should have won by at least one more TD.  Though for some reason, the weird officials started calling a ton of penalties on Carroll in the second half.  It was as if they had some kind of group left-brain/right-brain neurosis, and the penalty side simply flip-flopped.

The PA-announcer had a curious habit of referring to CWU as simply "Washington."  This sounds very strange indeed to a Husky fan.  Ironically, Carroll's uniforms looked a lot like Husky uniforms, being purple, white, and gold.

A bye week is a good time to check out your local small college team.  I suspect there are a lot of lifelong Husky fans out there like me who grew up in Seattle but went to college elsewhere.  You might be surprised that your little college takes football pretty seriously, and it adds some perspective to big time I-A football. 
Mike Archbold


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