Fans ‘tickled’ with Saints’ division title

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 19, 2000

With Sunday’s 23-7 win over the Atlanta Falcons and a little help from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Monday night, the New Orleans Saints insured themselves a playoff berth and became NFC Western Division Champs.

It’s only the fifth time the Saints have reached the playoffs in the team’s 34-year history and the first time since the 1992 season.

With Tampa Bay’s 38-35 win over the reigning Super Bowl champion St. Louis Rams Monday, the Saints, 10-5, claimed its first division title since 1991.

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Saints fans from around the Miss-Lou area, including area high school football coaches, are thrilled that the Saints are having a good season.

&uot;It’s super. I’m happy for the Saints,&uot; said Ferriday High School head coach James McFarland. &uot;I’m a big Saints fan. It’s good to see that things have changed for them.

McFarland said after seeing the Saints play, he felt the team would win a lot of games this season.

He then said the Saints will finally win their first playoff game in the team’s history and will have a &uot;strong chance&uot; in the playoffs because of their defense.

&uot;I think it’s great,&uot; said Joe Fortunato. &uot;I thought they’d go at least 9-7 and give themselves a chance to make the playoffs. But they’re doing better than that. They’re just playing good football.&uot;

&uot;The city needs it. The fans need it,&uot; he added.

Fortunato said that good decisions in personnel and in the free-agent market are the reasons the Saints are having such a good season.

&uot;I thought they surprised some with their quarterback (Aaron Brooks),&uot; he said. &uot;They were lucky with all the injuries they’ve had. But the backups have come in and stepped up.&uot;

&uot;I’m tickled to death for them,&uot; said Vidalia High head coach Dee Faircloth. &uot;They’ve got the right combination. Their general manager (Randy Meuller) is a good man. And Jim Haslett is a good coach. I’ve been impressed with their quarterback (Brooks).&uot;

Faircloth said a good defense and a good running game are other contributing factors to the Saints’ success this season.

&uot;They went out and got some good players, and they’ve got good chemistry,&uot; Faircloth continued. &uot;All their draft picks are coming together for them, which is one thing (former Saints head coach Mike) Ditka did right.&uot;

Faircloth also said the success the Saints are having in 2000 has &uot;been a long time coming. Everybody’s jumping on the Saints’ bandwagon.&uot;