The Chadron State College football team will have some additional fan support Saturday, when it plays perennial power Colorado State-Pueblo in the Eagles’ home opener. At least a couple dozen Eagles from the 1990s are planning to attend the game. Kickoff will be at 6:30.
The gathering is being led by Dan “Magic” Maciejczak, an all-star center for the Eagles in the mid-‘90s and the father of this year’s starting center, Jared Maciejczak.
“We don’t have a whole lot planned,” the elder Maciejczak said. “We’ll set up a tailgate behind the stadium and kind of hang out, do some barbecuing, drink some sodas and watch the game.”
Maciejczak added that CSC Head Coach Jay Long, who took over at center after Maciejczak had expended his eligibility in 1996, also will lead the visitors on a tour of the Chicoine Center, where the Eagles play volleyball and basketball, and Elliott Field, Don Beebe Stadium and the Con Marshall Press Box that were refurbished and reopened in 2018.
Maciejczak said former Eagles from as far away as Cleveland, Chicago, Omaha and Idaho are planning to attend, along with a large number who live within a few hundred miles of Chadron.
“Quite a few that I have talked to said they haven’t been back on campus since they graduated,” Maciejczak said. “I think they’ll be pleased and maybe even pleasantly surprised when they see the new developments.”
Besides the Jared Maciejczak, the fathers of eight other members of the 2019 Eagles also have been members of CSC football teams, most of them in the 1990s. They are the dads of Brendan Brehmer, Brady Fullmer, Baily Hood, Kael Juelfs, Chad Mikelson, Cade and Denton Payne, McKade Smith.
The ‘90s was an excellent era for the Eagles. They won 78 games, lost 30 and had one tie for a 72.2 winning percentage. The latter figure is the third best after nearly 11 decades have passed since Chadron State began playing the sport in 1911. Topping the list is the 10-year period between 2000-09 at 77.7 percent (87-25) while second belongs to the 1920s, when the Eagles won 75.9 percent of their games (60-19-2).
The ‘90s was a great time for the Eagles to go on a winning binge. They joined the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference in 1991, and before the decade ended they had become the premier football power in the league. Coached by Brad Smith, the Eagles never had a losing season the entire decade and won or shared three conference championships in the final four years.
Here’s the year-by-year win-loss records during the decade: 1990--9-2, 1991--5-5-1, 1992--7-3, 1993--6-5, 1994--9-2, 1995--8-2, 1996--10-2, 1997--8-3, 1998--9-3, 1999--7-3.
Offensively, the Eagles frequently unleashed the “long bomb” during the 1990s. They threw 38 touchdown passes that were at least 50 yards long. That’s 14 more of that distance than were scored from 2000-09. Thirteen of the long range missiles were launched by quarterback Trevor Moon from 1995-98. Stewart Perez threw eight TDs of at least 50 yards in 1990-91 and Matt Strand uncorked seven in 1999, the final year of the decade.
With this kind of firepower, it stands to reason that several receivers rank high on the Eagles’ all-time receiving lists. Cory Brooks, who played 1992-95, is CSC’s all-time reception leader with 188 and also leads in career yardage at 2,940. Jess Clarke, who played 1996-99, is third in career receptions with 168 and second in yardage at 2,673.
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Jay Rhoades caught 13 touchdown passes his senior year in 1991 to share the Eagles’ single season lead with Don Beebe, who played in the NFL for nine years after starring at CSC in 1988.
Chadron State’s leading rushers during the ‘90s were Corey Campbell with 3,258 yards and David McCartney with 2,947. McCartney’s 25 rushing touchdowns led the nation in 1992 and now ranks third at Chadron State behind Danny Woodhead’s 27 in 2004 and 38 in 2006.
The Eagles also were potent on defense in the 1990s. They scored 23 defensive TDs during the decade, 12 on interceptions, 10 on fumble recoveries and one on a blocked punt. The opponents’ defenses scored 11 TDs--seven on interceptions and four on blocked kicks.
Some other defensive highlights:
--Two fumble recoveries at Kearney, the first in 1997, when Kevin Homer claimed the Lopers’ bobbled pitchout at the Eagles’ one-yard line in overtime, and the second in 1999, when Brian Pittman stripped the ball from a UNK receiver and Rob Bennie returned it 82 yards to paydirt. CSC won those games 40-34 and 24-18.
--Jim Wiese’s interception in the end zone of a two-point conversion pass attempt, allowing the Eagles to hang on for a 29-28 victory at Fort Lewis in 1994.
--Brion Bethel’s collision with the Fort Lewis quarterback at the one-foot line on the game’s final play to prevent a touchdown and preserve CSC’s 26-19 lead in 1996.
--Steve Van Houton, who was just 5-8, going as high as possible to tip a UNK pass that prevented a touchdown. A short time later he recovered a fumble to preserve the Eagles’ 14-10 victory in 1996.
--Kevin Homer jumping over both the CSC defensive line and the Eastern New Mexico offensive line to nail the Greyhounds’ all-star tailback on fourth down deep in Eagles’ territory. A bit later, Kerry Bailey swiped an Eastern pass inside the five with just a minute to go, allowing CSC to win 20-17 in Portales in 1996.
--Cody Gamble picked off two Black Hills State passes in the final six minutes of the fourth quarter, setting up touchdowns that the Eagles used to overcame a 22-13 deficit and win 26-22in 1992.
--Although the Eagles already led 7-6, Ryan Turman intercepted two passes in the fourth period and returned both for touchdowns at Colorado Mines and went on to win 36-6 in 1998.
--Defensive tackle Chad Kindle returned an interception off a fake field goal 74 yards in the mud at Adams State only to be tackled a yard shy of the goal line in 1991. The Eagles were penalized 15 yards for celebrating Kindle’s feat, and did not score because of it, but still won 10-0.