In 1993, the Garrison Dodgers baseball team from Washington, D.C. found themselves 0-5 and on the tail-end of a 24-0 drubbing against the defending Bethesda Chevy Chase Little League baseball champions.
Coming off a winless season, many of the players on the team figured this year wouldn’t be any different, including me.
However, in the next game, the Dodgers rallied from three-down in the last inning to win their first and only game of the year.
The win, though, did more than just fill a column on a score sheet. It gave the players a sense of confidence that fueled them to compete at a much higher level the rest of the season.
Despite falling to 0-3 and being shutout in consecutive games, there is actually good reason to withold from writing off the football team’s 2006 campaign as a complete loss. Before Temple returns home to take on Kent State, ranked as the second-worst team on ESPN.com’s Bottom Ten (Temple, of course, has secured the lowest spot), it has a date with Western Michigan this weekend.
Last season, touted as the “The Cruelest Season” by Sports Illustrated, the Owls hosted the Broncos at Lincoln Financial Field, favored to win. Though they led for a large portion of the game, the Owls were unable to close and Western Michigan snuck out with a 19-16 overtime win.
Fast forward to this season.
The Owls are in desperate need of an opponent in a relatively closer weight class. After being dismantled by two recognizable programs, both with bowl game appearances last season, a boost in the morale department could potentially give Temple the momentum for a solid showing against Southeastern Conference bottom dweller Vanderbilt.
Western Michigan, a program that has had down seasons like the Owls, has turned its ship around. Under coach Bill Cubit, the Broncos have gone 43-23-1 and upset Virginia earlier this month, 17-10.
After beating Temple last season to even their record at 2-2, the Broncos won five of their last seven games to finish tied for third in the Mid-American Conference.
Kent State, like the Owls, nearly faced excommunication from Division I football.
Since 2002 the Golden Flashes have amassed a 15-34 record. Last season, they finished 1-10 overall and winless in the MAC at 0-8.
With Temple in its last season as an independent, the first meeting between the two eventual MAC opponents could be the first of many games that could possibly snap a losing streak or two.
The Owls’ ship is currently stuck and in need of a strong breeze in the direction of success. With new coach Al Golden came a promise of a new attitude and an overall better on-field performance. While the latter may be disputable, there is a noticeable difference
in the demeanor of this year’s squad and last year’s team.
The defeatist attitude, the one that seemed to plague the team before a snap was taken in 2005, has been geared toward competing on every play, regardless of the circumstance. Yet youth and speed has given the Owls something to believe in.
Although the records and stats seem almost insurmountable, one victory might make a believer out of me and maybe a few others at the university.
Jeremy Drummond can be reached at email@example.com.