The Wabash football team claimed the Monon Bell Saturday for the fifth consecutive year, 38-21. The last time the Little Giants rang the 300-pound piece of iron five straight years happened from 1949-1954.
“Any time you beat your rival, it always caps your season off whether you go to the playoffs or not,” Frank Kolisek ‘82 said. “The playoffs are big, but this game still kind of supercedes that.”
Kolisek was a Little Giant kicker and punter. Kolisek’s former teammate, Jim “Killer” Kilbane ’84, praised Coach Erik Raeburn’s success.
“This continues to really confirm the program Erik Raeburn has put together,” Kilbane said. “He’s done a great job. He understands how important this game is, and that’s important as the Wabash head coach.”
Kilbane was also excited about the type of big-game atmosphere the rivalry breeds.
“What I love about this game is that small-college athletes for one day feel like they’re division-one athletes with this atmosphere.”
The former linebacker helped his team win the Bell in 1982, capping a perfect 10-0 season. It was the first season Wabash finished the year without a loss or tie. Kolisek posted a 2-1-1 record in his Bell games.
Former quarterback Tyler Burke ‘12 recently experienced the rivalry. He was a freshman on the last Wabash team to lose the Bell.
“Having the Bell each year, you know how great it is to have it,” Burke said. “But after my freshman year, I can’t even imagine to not have the Bell again. It is painful losing and getting handled at home in the Bell game.”
Burke wen 3-1 in Bell games, highlighted by the 47-0 victory in 2010.
The recent success follows a balanced eight years — Wabash was 5-3 from 2001-2008. However, the 27-21 victory in 2001 stopped a five-game DePauw winning streak from 1996-2000.
“During that period, it was not very enjoyable,” Coach Mac Petty said “Our guys tried and played hard, but we just didn’t do it.”
Petty has been a part of the Wabash Athletic Department for the last 37 years.
In comparing Wabash’s current success versus the struggles of the late 90’s, Petty found similarities.
“What I’m concerned about in this game is giving DePauw things to build on,” he said. “We beat them, but they did some things at the end of the game they can use for the future.”
Petty recalled Wabash getting closer during that Tiger win streak and saw a similar pattern in Saturday’s game. The Tigers outscored the Little Giants 14-3 in the second half.
A victory in next year’s Bell game would give Wabash the second longest win streak in the series history. The Little Giants won seven straight from 1921-1927. DePauw has never won more than five in a row. Wabash holds the advantage in the all-time series with a record of 58-53-9.