WATERLOO – DeKalb is 2-0 in football. So, of course, this was a moment to be shared by as many people as possible.
That’s why as he gathered his players on the field, having just beaten county rival Garrett on Friday, first-year coach Pete Kempf stopped, turned toward a hungry student body waiting on the sidelines and motioned for them to come on the field to join in the post-game celebration.
Tonight wasn’t just about us as a football program, it was about us as a family, Kempf said afterward. You saw these crowds packed, you’ve got guys tailgaiting at 5 o’clock. It’s not about just winning, it’s about building a program and making it fun again. Tonight, I think we had fun.
Fun has been a rare commodity for the Barons in recent years, as has winning. DeKalb entered this season having won just two of its previous 28 games, dating to 2009. Last week, the Barons snapped a 13-game losing streak with a 26-7 victory over Angola.
They topped that with a comeback win over the Railroaders (1-1) in which they scored 20 points in the fourth quarter to turn a 13-6 deficit into a milestone victory.
DeKalb struggled offensively all night but put together two impressive drives to take the lead. Harrison Price, who didn’t complete a pass until 8:23 was left in the fourth quarter, hit 6-foot-6 receiver Will Chrisman on a 21-yard slant for a touchdown that made it 13-13 with 6:36 to play.
Garrett’s ensuing drive ended with a fumble, which plagued the Railroaders all night. They had eight turnovers, with six fumbles lost and two interceptions. The performance left Garrett coach Chris DePew seething.
I can speak for every person involved in our program, we’re embarrassed, ashamed and disappointed, DePew said. That’s it. Embarrassed, ashamed and disappointed. Terrible at every level, from coaching to playing to preparation to conditioning, to everything involved with being a good football team. You saw absolutely none of that tonight from me, my staff, our players, this entire sideline.
On the other hand, DeKalb did what they had to do. They played better than we did because they had to win.
After the last turnover, DeKalb took two plays to take the lead as Price and Chrisman connected again, this time from 53 yards out to put the Barons up 20-13.
Garrett’s next drive resulted in another turnover, this one an interception by Chad Ramus that he returned to the 3-yard line. Two plays later, Price went in from 1 yard out to make it 26-13.
Garrett’s Tanner Burns hit Kordall Kessler on a 4-yard score, the combination’s second touchdown of the night, to cut the lead to 26-20 with 14 seconds left. But the Barons recovered the onside kick, and the celebration followed.