110 W. New York Ave.
DeLand, FL 32720
First game in 57 years is a victory for the Hatters
By Joe Crews
posted Sep 1, 2013 - 9:42:23am
It took nearly 24 hours, but the Stetson University Hatters football team is still undefeated.
Picking up at the 12:35 mark in the second quarter of a game started on Saturday night, with the score 10-3 in favor of Stetson, the Hatters romped to a 31-3 victory over the Warner University Royals Sunday afternoon at Spec Martin Memorial Stadium in DeLand.
The game kicked off at 7 p.m. Saturday, only to be stopped at 7:40 p.m. when lightning was detected in the area. That was soon followed by torrential rains, and the game was finally called about 90 minutes later.
Kickoff on Sunday was at 3 p.m. under a blazing hot sun , and the final whistle came about two hours later.
“For the record, we planned that (a Stetson win),” said City Manager Michael Pleus.
At halftime, congratulatory thanks “for bringing football back to DeLand” were given to local attorney Butch Paul, the chairman of Stetson’s board of trustees, as well as Pleus, DeLand Mayor Bob Apgar and city commissioners Leigh Matusick and Phil Martin, who were in attendance, along with Rick Hall, head of the city’s recreation department.
Also thanked but not present were commissioners Charles Paiva and Vonzelle Johnson and City Engineer/Public Works Director Keith Riger.
PREVIOUSLY REPORTED — From a parachutist delivering the game ball to the crowd joining a seven member a capella group’s rendition of "The Star Spangled Banner," there was hoopla aplenty before the kickoff of Stetson University’s first football game in more than a half-century.
Unfortunately, the game was halted early in the second quarter when lightning was detected in the area, followed soon thereafter by heavy rain. After nearly 90 minutes, the game was scheduled to resume at 3 p.m. Sunday with 12:35 left in the quarter and Stetson ahead of Warner University by a 10-3 score.
“The pre-game was fantastic,” said university President Dr. Wendy Libby, who admitted being particularly moved during the national anthem when the nearly 6,000 fans in attendance joined in. “The crowd was quiet at first, but emotions took over and they started singing.”
The parachutist glided into Spec Martin Memorial Stadium over the south end zone and touched down about 15 yards past midfield, where he handed a game ball to the referee.
Minutes later, about 18 players from Stetson gridiron teams of the late-1940s and ‘50s were introduced to an appreciative crowd. One of them, Keith Shamrock, who played in the final season in 1956, was given the additional distinction of being the honorary captain at the pre-game coin toss.
“It felt great,” Shamrock said later. “I was captain of that last football team.”
Shamrock, who lives in Eustis, retired in 2006 after a career as a certified public accountant and homebuilder.
Other festivities before kickoff included the introduction of Stetson mascot John B. and the presentation of a football jersey to Dr. Libby by Athletic Director Jeff Altier.
A number of DeLand officials watched from one of three skyboxes on the first floor of the press box tower. City Manager Michael Pleus said the city owns all three, but Stetson leases two of the boxes, one with 12 seats and another seating twice as many.
The city’s box has a dozen seats, and city commissioners and their families (as well as Pleus and his wife and son) were using it for this game because they were supposed to be part of a presentation at halftime. But Pleus said the primary use of the skybox will be as an economic development tool to showcase some of the “hometown” atmosphere in DeLand.
“The box will be used to show potential companies the 'softer side' of DeLand,” he said. “We can also allow existing companies like Frontier Communications, DaVita Labs and Duraline to use it, or whatever company that may be expanding or moving here.”
City Commission Leigh Matusick said a city-owned box at Melching Field, where the Stetson Hatters play baseball, gets similar use.
“They enjoy it very much,” she said.
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