See more of the story

Bethel football coach Steve Johnson, who earned his 250th career victory on Saturday in the Royals' 40-0 win over Carleton, announced Monday he will retire at season's end.

Johnson, who is in 34th season as the Royals coach, is the leader in career victories among active Division III coaches. He has a 250-110-1 record and has coached the Royals to 11 NCAA Division III playoff appearances and five MIAC championships. They had only five losing seasons in Johnson's tenure.

"There are not adequate words to describe Coach J's impact on the student-athletes he has coached, the football program, the athletic department, and all of Bethel University," Bethel athletic director Greg Peterson said in a news release. "What he did with the football program is indescribable — going from a program that won a total of 14 games in the entire decade prior to him coming, to one that is annually among the top in the country.

"As astounding as his on-field success is, it pales in comparison to the transformational life impact he has had on the young men he has coached."

Johnson, who graduated from Bethel in 1979, began his coaching career as a graduate assistant at St. Cloud State in 1980. He was the head coach at St. Cloud Cathedral High School before serving as a graduate assistant for Gophers coach John Gutekunst in 1986. He also was an assistant coach at Montana State for two years before becoming the Bethel coach in 1989.

The Royals (6-2 overall, 3-0 MIAC Skyline Division) will play host to Concordia (Moorhead) (5-3, 3-0) on Saturday. A victory would advance the Royals to the MIAC championship game on Nov. 11. The winner of that game receives the MIAC's automatic berth in the Division III playoffs. The Royals have played for the MIAC championship and reached the Division III playoffs the past two seasons.

Johnson was inducted into the Minnesota Football Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2016 and was the AFCA Division III National Coach of the Year in 2022.