117TH MONON BELL GAME: Housing it up
Wabash defensive line coach Steve House to retire after 25 years
Sunday, November 14, 2010 7:01 PM
For Wabash College defensive line coach Steve House, this year's 2010 Monon Bell game was bittersweet.
After 25 years at Wabash, it marked his final one.
But boy, did he help the Little Giants cement it with a bang.
Wabash defeated in-state rival and No. 21 DePauw 47-0 Saturday afternoon at Byron P. Hollett Little Giant Stadium in Crawfordsville. The Little Giants held the Tigers to just 95 total yards, tied for their third largest margin of victory and recorded their first Monon Bell shutout in more than 40 years.
That's one way to cap a coaching career.
House, 68, will retire at the end of the school year. He was honored during halftime of Saturday's game. He's spent the past 25 years at Wabash and has coached football for 45 years overall. Even after all those Bell games he's seen, he acknowledged this one was pretty amazing.
"This game is always unpredictable, as far as you can never predict what the records mean, what the weather is going to do, those kinds of things. It always comes down to who plays hardest the longest kind of thing," House said. "[Saturday], we just clicked on all cylinders, with our running game and our wide receivers got open and made catches. Defensively, we did get pressure on their quarterback [Michael Engle], which we thought we could do, and we shut down their run game. Our kicking game was pretty solid. It was a total thing where everything was clicking for us and we got them on their heels and just kept pouring it on."
Pour it on they did. Wabash scored 19 points in the first half and another 21 in the second half. The Little Giants' defense held Engle to just 84 yards on 12 of 33 passing (36.4 percent), including 6 of 22 in the first half.
Although the Little Giants didn't have any sacks and recorded just one tackle for a one-yard loss, they pressured Engle all afternoon. He didn't have much time to throw - and when he did he was off target.
He also threw two interceptions, one made by senior linebacker James Pannell (11 yards) the other by senior linebacker C.J. Gum (0 yards).
Two weeks after giving up 500-plus yards to North Coast Athletic Conference rival Wittenberg, the defensive line responded.
Again, when called out, they answered the challenge.
"It was a great way to end our season and you couldn't ask for any better," Gum said. "We played hard and knew it might be our last shot. So, all of us played hard and left everything on the field."
House acknowledged he was pleased. And he definitely didn't expect a shutout.
But as good as this one feels, he knows what it's like to be on the other side of a blowout.
"I remember when the shoe was on the other foot in 1998 when we went in undefeated and DePauw beat us 42-7," House said. "It was devastating."
But he'll take going out this way for sure.
A 1964 Ball State University graduate and former Cardinals' football player, House joined Wabash as a volunteer in 1983 and served as the team's running backs coach. After a two-year hiatus, he returned in 1990 to work with the defensive line and has stayed there ever since.
He's also got a Montgomery County tie, as he served as Southmont High School's principal and athletics director. His son Kelley (a 1990 Wabash graduate) also played for the Little Giants and was a four-year letterman and three-year starting defensive back.
And Kelley made a Monon memory of his own, blocking a punt in the 1986 Monon Bell game that helped Wabash start a 17-point fourth-quarter comeback and earn a 24-23 win. He was inducted into the Wabash College Athletics Hall of Fame in 2008.
Steve House will continue to do some recruiting over the next couple of weeks, heading up the Little Giants' efforts in Michigan, California and Arizona.
But he'll keep this game in the back of his mind for awhile.
"It was an extraordinary day," House said.