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2003 changed the course of Michigan Tech, sports, jobs

Michigan Tech in 2004 for a photo before the start of the season. Team members include coach Bernie Anderson, offensive coordinator Tom Curley, Dan Metluk, Kirk Williams, Chad Algar, Lee Marana, Brad Schultz, Jim Bestol, Rob Black and David Kopke. , Mike Brewster, Kyle Stewart, Brian Janeshek, Jacob Smith, S. Mathieson, David Anderson, Andy Bonk, Davon Dixon, Travis Boyk, Dustin Daniels, Brian Krett, Joe Bassindale, Jackson Mnot, Antoine Young, Brian Repley, Chris Lomasney, Grant Botts, Paul Lynn, Darryl Graham, Jack Meikle, Juan Wilson, T. Merritt, Jared Wills, Brad Ruohonen, Zach Tatro, Luke Edwards, Ryan Essex, Chain Nelson, Andy Luhmann, Matt Lamberty, Ethan Skrom, Billy Ornig, Mike Hutchens, Andy Bruce, Lee Keyes, R. Richard, Kurt Trout Mann, W. McCubbrey, Josh Dorn, Pete Moyryla, Steve Fantetti, DeVon Allen, Keith White, Erik Lehman, D. Williamson. (Photo credit: Michigan Tech Athletics)

HOUGHTON — Recent years have been the most prosperous in the Michigan Tech Huskies football program’s 100-year history, despite the team’s current 1-4 record. However, it wasn’t long ago that the program nearly died out, thanks to the decision to cut the program following the 2003 season.

Dan Mettlach, now the Huskies’ Associate Head Coach and Offensive Coordinator, was caught in the middle of a wild two-week sequence that gave the Huskies new impetus to take the next step as a program.

In the spring of 2003, Mettlach had just completed his third season with the Huskies. He was the starting quarterback on a team that had his 3-7 record in 2002.

As he and his teammates approached the SDC gym one morning, something seemed alarming. The lights in the large room were still out.

“We found one morning of morning conditioning.” He said. “I mean, it was 6:30 or 6:15 in the morning, or else it was Wood Jim. All the lights were out. All the guys were wondering what was going on. Then coach (Bernie) Anderson came over and gave me the news.

“(It was) a five to ten minute conversation. , you’ll leave SDC without knowing what’s going to happen.”

While trying to process decisions made by the physical education department, Mettlach and his teammates had to make decisions. Some of his professors recall wondering why he and his teammates bothered to come to class when he and his teammates might be considering transferring schools. .

For Mettlach, the whole experience in that moment was surreal.

“It was one of those deals where you’re sitting there asking, ‘Do you really want to go to school now?’ For all other conditions.” He said. “Then you’re going to class, and some professors are wondering why you’re there.”

Over the next two weeks, several team members went on recruitment trips trying to find new schools to play. Others decided to stay on, even though there was no prospect of playing another game at Michigan Tech.

Mettlach and his teammates had to deal with another distraction as rumors circulated from alumni and the community that there might be enough money to restart the program. program may be revived.

“We went to visit” He said. “Some of us visited together. I’m trying to find out.It’s been a weird time what’s transferred and what’s not.”

Mettlach couldn’t contain his excitement when the program’s restart was announced. In the days that followed, the team learned that only a handful of players had made the move.

Also new to the 2003 program was the Sherman Field VIP Pavilion. Built by the father of kicker Grant Botts and stored by Jim and Julie Courtright, the space has become a gathering place for alumni and fans. Mettlach also applauds her Sue Johnson’s efforts in coordinating the VIP program. With such support, the team went into her 2003 season with excitement, knowing that the team was supported, not just by her family.

During the 2003 season, the Huskies won the opening game but lost the next four games. There is a sports adage that teams need to learn how to win. Mettlach felt that was exactly what was happening with the team. Because once they figure it out, they’ve won 4 of their last 5 games.

That knowledge proved invaluable heading into the 2004 season. Mettlach and the Huskies beat Northern Michigan to start the season and never looked back, winning his next eight games to set up a massive matchup against the all-time-ranked Grand His Valley State. .

The two teams met at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor for the conference title. The Huskies ultimately lost three of his players to injuries and lost the game, but were able to play in front of 52,000 fans. This is something that every player on that team will remember for the rest of their lives.

At that moment, Mettlach and his teammates were focused on football.

“We stayed not far from the stadium.” He said. “So obviously there were quite a few alums around the two hotels we stayed in. My wife, who was my girlfriend at the time, went to Michigan, and when I was driving by, I saw her tail I could see the gate and there were many people there.”

The Husky family has since learned how much it means to be a part of what they call a very special moment for alumni and the community. “Bash at the Big House.”

“We finished a team dinner at the hotel that night. He said. “People still come to us, whether we meet the alums or talk to the alums or the tech supporters or whatever, whatever we’re doing in that game.”

The Huskies earned a chance to attend and host the first NCAA playoff game of the season. Although they lost to North Dakota, the experience helped set the tone for his next 18 season in Michigan Tech football.

Mettlach, who is now the program’s coach, teaches his players the same principles as when he was a player.

“There’s no easy way to win, but I think what I appreciate about this place is that they don’t take shortcuts just to win.” He said. “We’re going to do things the right way, the Michigan Tech way. Those who’ve been in that program understand what that means. You know you can go 1-4 or 5-0, and that’s what makes Michigan Tech so special.”

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