Hale to the Huskies
Danny Hale, center, at his first spring practice, April 1993.
One of the most important announcements in the history of Bloomsburg football was made on December 22, 1992 when Danny Hale was introduced as the new head football coach of the Huskies. Hale, a 1968 graduate of West Chester State College, began his coaching career in 1974 at the University of Vermont. After stops at Bucknell and Colgate he was named head coach of his alma mater in 1984, where in five seasons he won 40 games and lost only 13. After four seasons out of the collegiate ranks he saw an opportunity at Bloomsburg and took it. As he said on that December day in 1992, "I am so excited for the opportunity to get back into college coaching. I have been away from this level for four years and myself, my family and everyone around me is enthused about the possibilities at Bloomsburg University."
Success wasn't immediate for a team that had won only one game in 1992, but it didn't take long. After losing five of its first six contests during the 1993 season, the team won four of its final five. Two losses to begin the 1994 campaign were followed by eight victories in nine games, and a share of the PSAC Eastern Division title. The next year Hale's team won nine of eleven games and a second straight share of the eastern division crown. In 33 years from 1960 when the conference first split into divisions until 1992 Bloomsburg had only had one shared and one outright title, in 1984 and 1985, respectively. In just Hale's first three years he matched that total, and broke it with his first outright division crown in 1996. Success had come to the Huskies and they had no intention of slowing down.
reached the Division II play-offs again for the first time since 1985 during
their 10-1 campaign in 1996, at the time the second most wins in a season in
school history. A loss to Indiana (PA) in the second game was followed by nine
consecutive victories, including a 64-0 win over Lock Haven (the second
highest point total against non-high school competition in school history,
bettered only by a 67-0 win over Millersville in 1916), and the new record
set three weeks later in a 74-13 demolition of Mansfield. The following
week the Huskies had their most dramatic game of the season when Irvin
Sigler scored from four yards out with one minute to go to secure a 21-17
win at Millersville.
The most exciting game all year though was the regular season finale at home
against East Stroudsburg when Bloomsburg, down 42-37 late in the third
quarter, scored three touchdowns, all by Sigler and the last from 80 yards,
to win 58-42 and secure the Eastern Division title for the third consecutive
year. The 100 total points was the most in school history, and the game
boasted 1,243 total yards and broke a number of NCAA, PSAC, and school
records. It was a memorable game to cap a great season, since the following
week the Huskies lost to Clarion in the first round of the Division II
play-offs by a score of 42-29.
Running back Irvin Sigler
In 1997 Irvin Sigler continued running the ball and assaulting the school and conference record book. That season in just ten games he rushed for a then record 2038 yards and scored 20 touchdowns. For his accomplishments he was named the best player in NCAA Division II football by winning the Harlon Hill Award, and finished his career with school records of 5034 yards rushing, 55 touchdowns, and 330 total points. And he has been just one of the many great players to contribute to the Huskies during Hale's tenure at Bloomsburg. The 1998 and 1999 seasons did not see any division titles, although the latter year saw Danny Hale became the winningest head football coach in school history, surpassing the record of 50 victories by Albert Aldinger. But those two years served as a warm-up for what the the 2000 Husky football team would accomplish.
|Following losses in the first two games the 2000 team reeled off nine straight victories, including six in a row by at least 24 points. Their 9-2 record propelled them into the Division II play-offs, where their momentum continued. Home wins over Saginaw Valley and Northwood sent the Huskies out to California to face UC-Davis in the national semi-finals, and things looked bleak as Bloomsburg was down 48-29 entering the 4th quarter. But in the greatest comeback in school history the Huskies scored 29 unanswered points to gain a 58-48 victory, sending themselves to the Division II National Championship game in Florence, Alabama.|
The stadium in Florence, Alabama,
December 9, 2000.
Even though Bloomsburg lost that December 9 title game to Delta State, it took nothing away from their accomplishments of being the national runners-up and tying the 1985 team's school record for the most victories in a season with 12. It was a memorable year that those involved with it have never forgotten, and showed the true potential of a Danny Hale coached team.
Through the 2004 season the Huskies enjoyed more success, with another trip to the play-offs in 2001 and three more eastern division titles. The arrival of running back Jamar Brittingham in 2004 brought yet more excitement, and a combination of youth and experience positioned Bloomsburg well for the 2005 campaign, which resulted in only the fourth undefeated regular season in school history. The Huskies won 11 straight before falling to East Stroudsburg in the NCAA play-offs. The 2006 season saw similar success, as an opening loss to James Madison was followed by 12 consecutive victories, taking Bloomsburg to the national semi-finals where they finally fell to NE Missouri State. Although 2007 did not see a trip to the play-offs Brittingham completed his career with 27 school and conference records, cementing his position as one of the best running backs ever in Division II history. The Huskies rebounded during the 2008 campaign, once more reaching the play-offs, posting 11 victories to run the school total to a stellar 512 over 111 seasons.
Bloomsburg's fans have seen many great games over the years, and had some of the finest players and coaches in the history of the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference. With a rich tradition behind the Huskies all their fans can look forward with certainty to many more exciting moments in the years to come.