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Delong ready for NAIA championship game

GEORGETOWN, Ky.

Friday, December 14, 2001

GEORGETOWN, Ky. – It’s been a great career for Walt Delong. And it might get even better.

Delong, the massive three-time All-American offensive tackle for Georgetown College, will lead the Tigers into Saturday’s NAIA national championship game against Sioux Falls.

Measured by NFL scouts at 6-foot-6, 330 pounds, Delong has been piling up more honors heading into Saturday’s title game. Despite all the awards, all Delong is thinking about is winning a second straight national championship.

"We’re 41-1 in three years. I think about (the one loss) all the time. It’s my only regret," Delong said. "We were up 20-0 with 30 minutes to go. A lot of people would like to have just had the chance. I’d love to have that half back."

Delong never got that half back, but he did return to the title game last year and helped Georgetown come away with the title. Georgetown is 13-0 this season and ranked No. 1 in the NAIA championship. Sioux Falls is 12-1 and ranked seventh. Delong had plenty of praise for Sioux Falls.

"The won it in 96 but lost 97, so they’re been there," Delong said. "They’ve got two good defensive ends and a big JUCO transfer defensive tackle who would be over me. He’s probably their best athlete. Their ends have 14 or 15 sacks between them. And their quarterback is up for Player of the Year."

Sioux Falls quarterback is Dax Michelena who is 184 of 316 on the season for 2,332 yards and 20 touchdowns.

The defense has 28 interceptions. But Delong is more concerned with JUCO transfer David Bernal who will be across from him. The ends are Darin Martyna and Dan Boyle and the duo have 145 tackles.

But Sioux Falls should be concerned about Delong and his teammates. The offensive line averages 6-5, 300 and quarterback Eddie Eviston is a two-time All-American and national Player of the Year last season.

Delong’s honors are numerous. A three-time all-Mid-South Conference first team selection, he was just named to the Division II All-America by the American Football Coaches’ Association. He was named a two-time Don Hansen Weekly Gazette Grazette Lineman of the Year, and NAIA national lineman of the year the last two seasons. Delong anchors Georgetown’s offensive line that has racked up an average of 404 total yards including 185 passing.

Delong is expected to be named to the small college (NAIA, Div. II, Div. III) Kodak All-American team.

"There’s only been three people from Georgetown to make it," said Delong.

Delong has a workout in January at the University of Kentucky for NFL scouts, and he is trying to get into the NFL Combine in Indianapolis as well as some postseason all-star games including the Cactus Bowl.

If Delong has a workout like the semifinals, he’ll write his own ticket.

Delong won the Hammer Award in a 33-21 win over Carroll (Mont.). The award is given to the player with the main hit in the game.

"I brought it to the table, " Delong said of his performance two weeks ago. "You hardly ever get a Hammer Award, especially as a lineman. I had five really good hits, but I had five hammers in one drive and three of those came on one play."

Georgetown led in the game 31-3 in the fourth quarter before Carroll rallied behind a series of penalties and questionable calls.

The Tigers opened the playoffs with a 76-9 spanking of rival Campbellsville. The game was 69-3 with 13 minutes left in the third quarter when the Tigers substituted.

The title game will be played at 1 p.m. and aired live by CNNSI or Channel 124 on Adelphia digital.