The Star Tribune is celebrating 50 years of high school football state tournaments one day at a time for 50 days.
"This is the first time that it has been for a state championship." — Minneapolis Washburn coach George Wemeier
The granddaddy of them all: the initial state tournament.
Minneapolis Washburn coach George Wemeier had already become accustomed to riding off fields on the shoulders of his players. This time it took on a different meaning.
"This is the first time that it has been for a state championship," Wemeier said after the Millers knocked off Moorhead 26-8 to win the first Class AA state championship at Metropolitan Stadium; the Millers went on to win a second title in 1977. "We played the three strongest teams in the state in a row, and won."
Junior halfback Ross Baglien ran for two touchdowns and caught a 48-yard scoring pass. Moorhead avoided being shut out with a late touchdown in the fourth quarter.
"They were in an eight-man front with three players covering the passes man-to-man," Baglien said. "We thought I could sneak out of the backfield and possibly get open."
Burnsville's George Harris also found himself getting open. Harris caught three touchdown passes from Mark Jaeger as Burnsville rolled to a 46-19 triumph over Sauk Centre for the Class A crown. They connected on 16-, 66- and 68-yard scoring plays.
"The passing game started working, so we just kept going with it," Harris said.
Greg Orson added scoring runs of 5 and 20 yards for Burnsville, which went on to win four more state titles.
"I didn't think any team would blow us off the field like that," Sauk Centre coach Bob Brophy said. "They would make a pretty fine Class AA representative."
In Class B, Mountain Iron fans were understandably chanting "We're No. 1" in the second quarter. The Red Raiders overwhelmed Dassel-Cokato with 40 first-half points en route to a 54-6 victory for their lone state championship.
Senior Scott Edstrom and junior Jeff Anderson each scored three touchdowns for Mountain Iron. Edstrom also had an interception.
"I think our guys relaxed a little in the second half," Mountain Iron coach Bob Swanson said. "We substituted quite a few players. We never did take out a few key players in the defensive secondary. We didn't want to give up any cheap touchdowns."
In Class C, Bob Bandemir, a 5-7, 163-pound junior, ran for 276 yards and two touchdowns, leading Gaylord to a 26-6 triumph over Preston in the finals. Jeff Koch also ran for two touchdowns. Gaylord successfully defended its championship the following year and won two more titles, in 1975 and 1979.
"The offensive line deserves much of the credit, but those two kids are tough," Gaylord coach Ty Wacker said. "These guys are super emotional. They really take this to heart."
In Nine-Man, Rothsay overpowered Cotton 64-12 behind three touchdown passes and a scoring run by quarterback Kevin Carlsrud to win its lone state championship. Mark Skugrud, who rushed for 155 of his 209 yards in the first quarter, and Greg Nord each scored two touchdowns for Rothsay, which scored 36 first-quarter points. The game was played a week before the other four finals.
"We knew that we were loaded," Rothsay tight end Denny Lehn recently told WDAY News. "We seldom lost a game. We had a pretty good tradition in Rothsay.
"We'd get to the city limits, the windows would come down on the bus, and the cheerleaders and the players were all screaming, 'We're No. 1, we're No. 1,' all the way through town — even before [tournament time)]."
State championship games
Class AA: Minneapolis Washburn 26, Moorhead 6
Class A: Burnsville 46, Sauk Centre 19
Class B: Mountain Iron 54, Dassel-Cokato 6
Class C: Gaylord 26, Preston 6
Nine-Man: Rothsay 64, Cotton 12