Friday night when 7-0 Marian takes on Mishawaka at 7:00 at Otolski Field, the 2019 version will attempt to do something that has not been done since 1999. The 1999 version is the last school to start a season 8-0 when they were victorious in their first 13 games on their way to a Regional Championship. It is rather fitting that the 1999 team will be honored during halftime of Friday’s game. For that 99 team, they found motivation with what occurred at the end of 1998.
In the hot weather of 1999 that early August tends to bring, the Marian Knights, led by Hall of Fame Coach Reggie Glon, started to work towards their first Sectional title since 1984. It was a victory that they felt had escaped them the year before when they began the season 11-0 and traveled to Andrean for a Sectional title battle. The Knights limped into that game with several injuries and came up short in the 1998 Sectional Championship.
It was a long nine months in between the loss to the 59ers and the opening of the 1999 season. The Knights were dominant in their first three games of the season, winning by almost 25 points a game. A win at Elkhart Memorial by seven put the Knights at 4-0 heading into Holy War week against Saint Joseph. A 20-point win over the Indians began a string of six straight games that saw the Knights win by more than twenty points in every contest.
After defeating Gary Mann for the second straight week to open Sectional play, Marian welcomed Hammond Noll to Otolski Field. Trailing 6-0 heading into the 4th Quarter, the Knights offense exploded in the final twelve minutes and advanced to the Sectional Final with a 21-6 victory. That victory brought the team’s record to 11-0 for the second straight year. And for the second straight year, the Knights had to travel to Andrean to play for a sectional title. With Marian trailing 7-6 at halftime, it appeared the Knights were in for another fight. But this year was different. This team was special. Coach Glon and the boys reeled off 22 straight points to claim the title they felt they should have won the previous year.
The Knights took that Sectional trophy back to Mishawaka where they would next host Zionsville for a Regional Championship. A victory on its home field would give Marian its first Regional title since 1976. Zionsville came in with a 10-2 record with one of the losses to eventual State Champion, Indianapolis Roncalli by the score of 13-6. True to their reputation of being a top-notch team, Zionsville was leading at halftime 14-3.
Marian stormed back in the second half, shutting out the Eagles and claiming a 15-14 victory to advance to the Semi-State round.
Standing in Marian’s way was the Norwell Knights who were 12-1 heading into the contest. Its lone loss on the season was a 30-29 defeat by Homestead who would finish the year with just one loss. It was an absolute battle that saw Marian clinging to a lead late in the 4th quarter. Unfortunately, the dream of a trip to Indianapolis would end when Norwell found the end zone with 27 seconds left in the game and claimed a 19-18 victory.
The disappointment that occurred on that mid-November night could not take away from a season that saw records broken that still stand today. The 1999 team still claims the most wins (13), most offensive yards (5,136), most rushing yards (4,136) and most points (487). It was part of a run of 17 straight regular season home game wins that began in 1996 and continued to the middle of the 2000 season.