STEVE HANLON: An open letter to the IFCA

2013-08-29T17:00:00Z 2013-09-12T22:37:06Z STEVE HANLON: An open letter to the IFCASteve Hanlon Prep Beat nwitimes.com
August 29, 2013 5:00 pm  • 

I stopped at a gas station Tuesday and 11 guys were waiting in line and talking about playing some football that weekend. One joked, "Why don't we play Lew Wallace? They're looking for some games?"

Same thing happened both at the grocery store and the mall.

This is where the once-proud Hornets football program has crumbled to. Maybe they're playing four games? Maybe five? Six? Who knows?

It wasn't that long ago no suburban team wanted to play the kids from Glen Park. If they did, they knew it was going to be a battle.

A strong Pop Warner feeder program and coach Dave Templin were the reasons people didn't want to play the Hornets, but they did. They were never looking for intramural teams to fill the schedule.

The time is now for Dave Templin to be inducted into the Indiana Football Hall of Fame. And the same sentence could've been written a decade ago.

Who was asleep at the wheel?

The 1966 Gary Emerson grad coached for 25 years at Wallace, 17 as head coach. His record was 101-63. And he had the greatest urban season since the IHSAA tournament began.

In 1989, the Hornets beat two state champions -- Hobart (4A) and Bishop Noll (3A) -- in the regular season. Templin's Killer Bees then beat Lake Central and Crown Point to win Gary's only football sectional championship in IHSAA history.

This was done with many of the same problems today's city teams face. But Templin found a way to give a great opportunity to young men in the city. Like Don Howell at Hobart, Templin changed lives in Gary.

"I did everything I could to make football important for the kids in my program," Templin said. "That wasn't popular in Gary at the time."

After retiring as Hornets' coach in 1994, he held administrative gigs at Boone Grove, Merrillville, Chesterton and Crown Point. None of these programs are looking for games.

Templin is now retired and living in Arizona, slapping on sun screen and wondering how his former program can't find games. Or win them.

I have always been a big fan of the Indiana Football Coaches Association. This group has done a great job growing the game in a basketball state.

But a new way of deciding who goes into the Hall of Fame might need to be looked at. Russ Radtke needs to be enshrined, too. But that's another topic for another time.

Former Lew Wallace players need to contact IFCA members and plead their case for Templin. He should be wearing a suit at Avalon Manner next summer.

This is a no-brainer. Look what the Hornets were under him. Now, look at what they've become.

Templin isn't googling a Baptist high school in Rhode Island trying to find a football game for homecoming. This is why he belongs in The Hall.

This column solely represents the writer's opinion. Reach him at steve.hanlon@nwi.com.

Copyright 2014 nwitimes.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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