INDIANAPOLIS -It stood out first and foremost for its look.
A bright yellow piece of cardboard with red slippers on it certainly made it unique among the chilly, mostly blue-clad people outside of Marian University's PE Center on Monday morning.
But what this sign said, however, truly reflected the thought of this short yet enthusiastic football pep rally. In fact, it summed up a mission six seasons in the making.
"There's No Place Like Rome," said the sign-and there were many people willing to agree.
The team which the sign was directed at stood across the way. A football program in its sixth season made it through four NAIA playoff games to advance to the championship to face Morningside (Iowa) in Rome, GA.
For this level of football, its the Camelot of travel destinations.
"It's a bit surreal sometimes," admitted Knights head coach Ted Karras Jr. as his team boarded the bus for the eight hour trip south to Barron Stadium at Shorter College, site of Thursdays' championship game. "But you know what, we work hard each and everyday to try and get to this point and the guys have come through for us.
"We're just fired up to go."
You could say such enthusiasm comes after years of building to make it happen. Its true, but the time frame is quite accelerated compared to many other programs.
Marian announced their new football program in 2006 and were on the field in 2007. By 2010 they found themselves in the playoffs and a year later garnered their first NAIA top ranking in advancing to the Semifinals.
This season they did all those things again only this time taking it a step further. In the Semifinal game at Missouri Valley College, Mike Josifovski booted a 51-yard field goal as time expired to give the Knights a 20-17 victory.
It earned the coveted trip to Rome and provided perspective to the speedy ride to the top for the program.
"Man, six years ago, from just starting the team, being 1-8 or something like that. Then being here and seeing all these people here come and support us, just everything we've been able to accomplish," said a reflective senior quarterback Adam Wiese. "Everything's finally paying off."
It took a week of effort for the team to reach the time to leave for Rome since finals week coincided with their preparations for morningside. Not long after their pep rally the team loaded their supplies on the bus for the long ride to a paradise they've worked for over a half a decade.
"Excited for our players, all the hard work the put in," said Karras. "We're fired up to go down to Rome."
Because there's no place like it for them.
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