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Delong seeks national title

Savannah, Tenn.

Friday, December 17, 1999

Savannah, Tenn. – The experts say it will come down to the offensive line. If that’s true, then Walt Delong will have a lot to say.

Saturday’s NAIA national championship game is being billed as the showdown between the Georgetown (Ky.) College Tigers offensive line and the Northwest Oklahoma State Rangers defensive line.

On the Georgetown offensive line is 6-foot-7, 330-pound offensive tackle Walt Delong, the former All-Ohio lineman for the Ironton Fighting Tigers.

Delong, who originally signed with Ohio State, returned to college football after playing basketball last season at the Ohio University Southern Campus in Ironton.

Despite a five-year layoff, Delong was dominating as he earned first team all-conference honors and put himself in position to garner first team All-American honors when the team is released next week.

All the talk of an award still doesn’t impress Delong.

"I didn’t pay any attention to that," he said.

Instead, Delong is focused on beating Northwest Oklahoma and winning a national championship which was his goal when he signed with Georgetown.

"We’re pretty hyped about this. That’s why I came here," said Delong. "They’re pretty good. We’re definitely number one and they’re number two. If our offensive line comes to play, we’ll get them. They’ve got a good defensive line."

The Rangers feature a potential All-American defensive tackle in Dustin Loveless, 6-5, 280. Loveless isn’t expected to line up directly across from Delong with the exception of a few plays. That’s good news for Loveless.

During the regular season and postseason, Delong destroyed defensive linemen including four players considered as the best NAIA defensive ends in the country. If he doesn’t pancake defensive linemen, Delong drives them between 20 to 30 yards downfield leaving them frustrated and embarrassed.

Delong said the Tigers take pride in their offense which set a record for total yards gained in a season and is just 16 points shy of setting a new scoring record.

"All the teams we’ve played in playoffs are considered the best offensive lines, but no one has compared to us," said Delong. "We’ve been light teams up. Azusa loaded up to stop the pass and we ran for 426 yards. We have a dive play we average 13 yards a carry."

After running roughshod over opponents in the regular season, Georgetown has been just as impressive in the playoffs. The Tigers blanked St. Francis, Pa., 38-0, then blasted Taylor (Ind.) University 53-3 and Azusa Pacific (Calif.) 66-35 last week.

Although Delong is confident of a win, he knows Northwest Oklahoma St. will be a good test.

"They run the option. They have a big quarterback who kind of reminds you of a (former Ironton quarterback Ryan) Guthrie only really stout. He’d rather keep it than pitch it. They’ve got the number two defense in the country. They only give up 47 yards rushing and 200 total yards a game," said Delong.

"They’re number two and we’re number one. They haven’t seen an offense like we’ve got or an offensive line like we’ve got. And our defensive line doesn’t get a lot of credit, but they’re pretty good."

Delong admits the talent level doesn’t compare to even his practices at Ohio State where he was compared to linemen Korey Stringer and Orlando Pace, now in the NFL.

"It’s a lot different. The teams aren’t as good across the board, but every team has one or two guys who can really play with anyone," said Delong. "But it’s been fun. I get along with the guys real well.

Scouts for the Oakland Raiders watched Delong in the win over Azusa, but Delong doesn’t even entertain thoughts of playing in the NFL. At least not now.

"I’ll be here next year. We’re not losing anybody. We’ve got a transfer from Purdue and a fullback from Eastern Kentucky. We’ve got people coming from everywhere. Our quarterback (Eddie Eviston) is just a sophomore," said Delong.

Eviston is expected to be named the NAIA Offensive Player of the Year.

"I’ve gotten a lot stronger through the season. I weighed 305 when I got to camp, but I’m more like 330 now," said Delong. "My goal is not to give up a sack all year or next year. I’d say my guy has made maybe one tackle all year."

For Walt Delong, that’s something pretty impressive to be able to say. But then, his actions speak louder than words.