Having just arrived from Ypsilanti and the yawner that transpired there, Mount Pleasant was a pleasant surprise. The drive toward the stadium offered more excitement than the entire game played down at Eastern Michigan. Enthusiasm dripped from all corners of the campus with the epicenter of the action being the stadium parking lot. Nothing could have prepared me for the wild college party that blanketed the area around Kelly Shorts Stadium. Kids dancing on cars, wall to wall bodies, live bands and college spirit absolutely drenched the surroundings. Central Michigan easily could have been confused for a major college team. We couldn’t wait to punch our ticket and pass through the gates.
Although not quite a sellout, the students made up for any empty seats in the stadium. They filled in early and kept the party rolling. The Chippewa student section ranks among some of the best I have seen. It’s no wonder that CMU returns this year as defending Mid-American Conference champs. Their performance on the field suggested that the title might stay in their name again this year.
Offense slicked up the field as each time tussled back and forth with big plays and powerful weapons. At the half, Central only led by three and Toledo would tie the game at 31 nearing the close of the third quarter. However, the Chippewas had their sights set on sending home a happy crowd and three touchdowns later, they extended the lead to 52-31.
We sat most of the game on the Toledo side and let me tell ya…Rocket fans mean business. Yes, this may be a MAC team, but they display much passion and knowledge for this sport and they bring it with them on the road. Their band and fans made a resounding presence in the corner of Kelly Shorts. We sat right near the Toledo players and found that Central fans harbored the same passion. Hecklers could be heard offering unpleasant words for the Rockets. Maybe it isn’t Alabama/Auburn or Ohio State/Michigan, but it is proof that fans even in the smaller conferences recognize their own rivalries and express their opinions as fervently as possible. On a beautiful night in Mount Pleasant, the Chippewas notched a win in their home opener, the first for new head coach, Butch Jones. We left quickly after the game, but we knew the party rolled on in Mount Pleasant. The sound of crickets is all that might be heard from their neighbors to the south in Ypsilanti.