Carlton and McAllister renew rivalry in ‘Book’ Battle

Northfield, Maine. McAllister has been securing the lower tiers of MIAC football for decades and Carlton has had his share of problems. The officials decided that it was worth reminding the schools’ noble academic status by creating a trophy for the annual Iron Grid Match.

So it was in 1998 that the winner of the game would receive the “Book of Knowledge”.

Forget all the others, even the “goats” with all their wooden ugliness that are traded in when Carlton meets his city rival St. Olaf.

The Knowledge Book is my favorite trophy in junior college football based on the brand’s sheer ostentation.

And early in the week, this realization arrived: I’ve actually never seen helmet-wearing brains competing for a dictionary (or something like that).

Fortunately, McAllister and Carlton will be on Saturday, and at Laird Stadium, the old Carlton track and football stadium that has served as the home of the Knights since 1922.

For those who haven’t had a chance to watch the Gophers play at Memorial Stadium (1924-1981), the Knights’ brickhouse is a miniature version worth visiting. The grandstands on the side of the house hold 7,500 … for a D-III.

Carleton and McAllister were original members of the MIAC in 1920. Carleton left the following year to attend the Midwest Conference, with mostly smaller private schools, before rejoining the MIAC in 1983.

Macalester never left MIAC. What I did was play football either as a freelance or guest star in the Midwest Conference from 2002 until 2019.

No MIAC football was played due to COVID-19 in 2020, and Mac signed up to get MIAC football setup after he left St Thomas for Division I in the fall of 2021.

The two teams played twice in 2021 and Carlton won both, including 48-45 on penalties at the end of the season. Carlton’s 7-3 record ended a streak of 11 consecutive unprofitable seasons. Much credit goes to veteran coach Tom Gornell, who was hired in 2018, after he was intrigued by his son’s presence and his playing for the Knights.

Journell was on the sidelines as the athletes warmed up 40 minutes before kick-off.

“Are you as good as you were last year with 7-3?” asked.

The Journal seemed surprised that a stranger might ask such a question: “Of course. Actually, I think we’re better. Maybe a little better.”

Macalester has a new head coach at Phil Nicolaides, 31. He opened with two wins against UMAC teams, before losing the opening game MIAC 38-32 to St. Olaf.

The Brain Bowl element in this competition went quickly with Mac. The opening start went back to 26, then in the first play – two pitches behind the line, quarterback Michael Nadeau’s throwback, then an easy throw in for receiver Rex Dresseau 15 yards behind Carlton’s defense for a 75-yard touchdown 20 seconds into the game.

If Carlton had believed in scores, the defense would have had the F-minus to recognize the flea’s flash.

Fortunately for the Knights, 59 minutes and 40 seconds were devoted mostly to blocking, tackling, running, passing, covering and opening, and Carlton sprinted to a 56-27 win – the record now is 4-0, and with talented quarterback Jonathan Singleton throwing five touchdown passes.

Carlton is now 56-12-1 all-time against the Mac in a series that first ran in 1898. The next time the Scots visit here, it will be play at Bob Sullivan Court. Laird Stadium will receive that name during Homecoming on October 15th.

“Sully” was the Knights coach from 1978-99. He was sitting in the low stands on Saturday, next to Paul Moore, his mid-80s captain.

“This is the most positive person I’ve ever met…and he’s 100% honest,” Moore said.

The Sullivan players wanted the stadium to be named after him. And they’ve come up with a surefire way to make it happen:

He raised a million dollars for soccer and track scholarships at the school.

The Knights actually won the MIAC title with Sullivan in 1992 – although John Galliardi, the St. John’s coach who started Sully training as a student, went for two in the final touchdown to defeat Carlton 70-7 in the regular season final. In the Metrodome.

“My mentor John did it, but we were the MIAC champions,” Sullivan said. “St. John lost to St. Thomas and tied Concordia. We beat St. Thomas and Concordia.”

Sulli then smiled and said, “It wasn’t a draw. We weren’t co-champions. We won it right away.”

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