Farewell, old stadium; a life-saving replace, and embracing football optimism in Minnesota

Thank you for studying Football Across Minnesota (FAM), my weekly column that excursions football matters in our state from preps to professionals. You can discover all of the earlier FAM columns proper right here. — Chip

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Owatonna High started taking part in football in 1893. The college opened its present constructing in 1921, and the football staff started taking part in in a stadium at that web site three years later. The Huskies have solely had two head coaches for the previous 57 seasons.

Consistency has been a hallmark of that championship program. Major modifications are on the way in which.

The college will transfer into a new constructing at a completely different location in city subsequent fall, and the campus will function a state-of-the-art football stadium for a program that has received three state championships since 2013.

The pending transfer is fueling blended feelings in Owatonna due to the emotional connection a number of generations have for the present college and fall Friday nights on the stadium.

“It will likely be an emotional time as a result of so many nice issues have occurred there,” head coach Jeff Williams mentioned. “So many actually constructive reminiscences, and some rip-your-heart-out reminiscences too of adverse losses.”

The metropolis and college district determined to proceed with constructing a new college quite than endure an intensive renovation after “dipping our toe in the water for 15 years on this,” Williams mentioned.

Community pleasure in Huskies football is powerful, which makes change particularly laborious. Playing in the identical stadium for nearly a century creates nostalgic appeal.

“This is Year 99 on that area,” Williams mentioned. “This is similar grime that Herb Joesting and Noel Jenke and Jason Williamson ran on. Pretty cool.”

Construction on the brand new college is progressing, and Williams expects the turf will likely be put in in the stadium “earlier than the snow flies” this winter.

Plans name for a number of apply fields geared up with synthetic turf and lights. The Huskies may also have entry to a grass apply area to arrange for street venues with that floor. Stadium seating capability will likely be 3,500, plus standing room solely.

“We’ve obtained a lot of old-timers that like to face alongside the fence line and provide their recommendation,” Williams joked. “We’ll be certain they nonetheless have that chance.”

Only two head coaches have heard that recommendation for the reason that mid-Nineteen Sixties. The late Jerry Peterson ran this system from 1966-96. Williams, who was Peterson’s assistant for seven seasons, took over for him when he retired.

Williams’ longtime defensive coordinator, Marc Achterkirch, doubles as Owatonna’s athletic director. Both he and Williams had been on the committee that helped design the brand new stadium. Achterkirch known as Williams after one assembly and requested that they make a pact: They agreed to each coach at the least one season in the brand new stadium earlier than deciding their future plans.

“So I believe I’m fairly obligated to at the least christen the brand new stadium,” Williams mentioned. “After that, we’ll see what occurs.”

The Huskies are 1-1 this season. Williams mentioned his gamers have expressed a vary of feelings in the ultimate yr in their college and stadium. Mostly pleasure with some sentimentality blended in.

“The clock is ticking on this grand old girl,” he mentioned. “It’s going to be type of robust to say goodbye.”

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Thankful at 50

In 2016, I wrote about an unimaginable gesture that former Gophers football participant Doobie Kurus made for his teammate Ed Hawthorne after studying that Hawthorne was sick and in want of a kidney transplant.

Kurus gave Hawthorne considered one of his kidneys in a transplant surgical procedure carried out on the M Health Fairview University of Minnesota Medical Center. Hawthorne says Kurus saved his life.

Six years later, each are doing properly bodily, and Kurus is planning a particular occasion tied to kidney donation on the Gophers house sport towards Colorado on Saturday to rejoice his 50th birthday subsequent week.

Hawthorne mentioned he feels “unbelievable” since receiving the kidney. His oldest son, Myles, is a beginning linebacker at Winona State. His son Bryce is a senior at Osseo who performs rush finish on protection and fullback on offense and has dedicated to play at South Dakota State.

Hawthorne, a former all-Big Ten nostril deal with, stays busy watching his sons pursue their ardour for football.

“I’m having fun with life and I’m taking full benefit of it,” Hawthorne mentioned. “I have never had any points or setbacks.”

Kurus rapidly returned to his energetic way of life not lengthy after recovering from surgical procedure. He competes in triathlons and performs pickleball frequently.

“This might be the healthiest level of my life,” he mentioned.

As he thought of the way to rejoice his 50th birthday, Kurus determined to lift consciousness for the National Kidney Foundation and the significance of organ donation by way of a pregame tailgate in the Maroon Lot on Saturday.

Kurus purchased 50 tickets to offer to household and mates. Guests at his tailgate will embody former teammates and representatives from the Kidney Foundation and his transplant staff from the college medical middle.

Gophers sports activities advertising is sending Goldy Gopher and the cheerleading squad to make an look on the festivities. Kurus’ daughter Emma performs in the marching band, so a contingent of bandmates will cease by. Kurus additionally invited fellow kidney donors.

“With me turning 50, it modifications perspective on life,” he mentioned. “It’s been six years and good issues are nonetheless occurring.”

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WEEKEND REWIND

Game balls

  • Justin Jefferson: Obviously, proper? A career-high 184 receiving yards and two touchdowns on 9 catches in the season opener towards the most important rival.
  • Tate Link, Dassel-Cokato: Carried the ball 26 occasions for 268 yards and 4 touchdowns in a win over Little Falls. He’s averaging 8.9 yards on 54 makes an attempt this season, with seven TDs.
  • Metoriah Faoliu, St. John’s: Sophomore defensive lineman registered 11 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks in a win over ranked opponent, Wisconsin-River Falls.

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He mentioned what?!

“Obviously, you’d at all times wish to have a bunch of Mos. More Mos. Mo’ Mos. Just hold bringing ’em, proper? He’s particular.” — Gophers coach PJ Fleck on star working again Mohamed Ibrahim.

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Numbers to know

  • 744: Total yards by Elk River in a 67-35 win over Andover. The breakdown was 621 speeding, 123 passing.
  • 829: Passing yards by Macalester College’s Michael Nadeau after two video games, which leads all Division III quarterbacks.
  • 84: Snaps for the Gophers protection by way of two video games, the fewest performs for a protection in FBS.

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UP NEXT

Grab your popcorn

Lakeville South at Eden Prairie, Friday at 7 pm This is a heavyweight matchup between the highest groups in the metro. The Cougars dealt with Eden Prairie 42-7 final September en path to an undefeated season.

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An essential 48 hours for…

Kevin O’Connell. It’s laborious to think about scripting a higher begin to his tenure as Vikings coach than what occurred Sunday. The temper in the locker room was joyful after the win, however now the following problem awaits: the primary street sport of the season in Philadelphia on “Monday Night Football.” O’Connell has an additional day of preparation to plan for a way the Eagles would possibly defend his scheme now that they’ve tape on it.

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A FAM FINAL WORD

“Optimism”

I do know, I do know. That’s a harmful phrase to Minnesota sports activities followers. You have turn into conditioned to ache and struggling and inevitable heartbreak. It’s simply who we’re. But go forward and enable your self, if just for a second, to understand the primary impressions made by the Gophers and Vikings. Both groups appeared well-prepared and executed at a excessive degree. It’s OK to really feel inspired by that.

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Thank you for studying Football Across Minnesota. I’ll publish this each Tuesday in your lunchtime studying. I admire suggestions so please attain out anytime.

Thanks once more,

Chip (@chipscoggins on Twitter)

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