Statesmen rise to top of mountain'

By By John Zenor/AP Sports Writer
Dec. 11, 2000
FLORENCE, Ala. Andre Brown was clutching to the Division II championship trophy, his grip firm and his grin wide.
The Delta State senior had been along for the ride as the Statesmen went from losing big to winning it all. And he wasn't ready to give up the biggest memento from their 63-34 win over Bloomsburg Saturday in the title game.
I was here when this program was really in the dumps,'' Brown said. We went 3-7 and lost seven straight my freshman year. To come back this year and win it all and go out on top, we've gotta celebrate.''
The Statesmen (14-1) won their first Gulf South Conference title under Todd Knight in 1998, earning their first playoff berth. Steve Campbell took over the program and, two years later, took them to the next level.
He proved to us that by working hard and being determined to do what you've got to do, you can make it where you want to go,'' Brown said. We believed in him and we made it where we wanted to go. We're at the top of the mountain.''
Delta State set championship game records for point, total yards (649), rushing yards (524), first downs (36).
Six players rushed for TDs and Delta State held onto the ball for nearly 38 minutes.
Now, Campbell can change his recruiting pitch. This is the first national title by a Delta State's men's team. The women's basketball team has collected six.
Now, we don't have to go back to the 50s and 60s to call on that tradition,'' he said.
Campbell said the title game was just icing on a nice season.
The joy and the pleasure have been in the journey,'' he said. It's been a fun, fun year since the beginning.
These guys are unselfish and care about their football team. If we can keep that character going, we'll have a chance every time out.''
Junior quarterback Josh Bright agrees.
I think we've got a lot of great players coming back,'' said Bright, who rushed for 175 yards and three touchdowns. I think we'll repeat.''
Bloomsburg (12-3) had a nice run of its own, reeling off 12 straight wins after opening the season 0-2.
It's heart-breaking now, but after a short time of grieving we'll reflect on the season and look at the positives and go on,'' coach Danny Hale said.