INDIANAPOLIS - The booms came as they were riding up. They were still going when they got off their bus next to the Physical Education center.
Immediately the Marian University football players turned their eyes to the skies and watched the fireworks in their honor blast over the baseball stadium nearby.
Brandon Sherman watched this going on as he stepped off one of the two buses that took the Knights from Rome, GA back to Indianapolis. It was there Marian won its first NAIA National Football Championship with a 27-24 victory over Morningside (IA) on Thursday night to win its first football national championship.
The scene itself was a bit surreal for Sherman, who five years ago came to Marian from Richton Park, Ill. and joined a program that was just a year old. Their debut season didn't foretell quick success ahead, since the Knights lost all but one game in their inaugural 2007 season.
"For this to happen in my time being here-especially in a start-up program-it's amazing," said Sherman as he got off the bus and greeted fans outside for the quick championship ceremony.
He was not the only one who found it easy to reflect on the quick work done by the Knights football program as they were lauded for the first time as NAIA champions on Friday night. Fans greeted the team with a collection of cowbells, cheers and even confetti which rained down on the players and the surrounded the championship trophy.
The 15-minute ceremony included a speech from university president Daniel Elsener, Indianapolis mayor Greg Ballard, head coach Ted Karras Jr. and a few players.
"Its so surreal, but it's great," said Karras of the celebration. "We almost felt the pressure. We heard this was going to go on a day or two ago. We wanted to deliver the hardware and we delivered the hardware."
In many ways it was Karras who set up the moment by helping to get the program going in what what most would say is no time at all for a program. In the program's fourth year the team was already in the playoffs and nearly made the trip to the national title game in 2011 had it not been for a late goal line interception against St. Xavier in the Semi-Finals.
In season six the Knights lost just one game and were ranked first for most of the season. They won their first two playoff games easily then beat Missouri Valley College and Morningside (Iowa) in thrilling fashion to take home the NAIA crown.
"Coach Karras and all the coaches here were just presenting it an idea to us, something we could aspire to be," said kicker Mike Josifovski-who tied and eventually won the national championship game with field goals.
They led to the unique celebration that occurred on Friday night, one never seen before at Marian and perhaps just a little quicker than expected.
"You get four years, four opportunities to do this. Not a lot of people get to do that in their college career," said senior quarterback Adam Wiese of winning a championship. "Really to come out and do it on my last chance, the last game that God has given me, given me the opportunity to accomplish that feels wonderful."