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Hard work on field, behind-the-scene promoting got Trojans into Boothill Bowl
September 21, 2011
Prior to winning the 1971 Boot Hill Bowl on Dec. 4 at Dodge City, Kansas with a come-from-behind 23-20 victory, the Trojans had to prove themselves on the gridiron. They also got a lot of support from Dakota State College itself and the Madison community.
Dakota State’s Trojans did more than well enough to get into the Boot Hill Bowl, finishing the regular season with an 8-2 record.
They defeated non-conference opponents Peru State (Neb.) 45-13, Southwest Minnesota State 19-14 and Iowa’s Northwestern 28-21.
In the South Dakota Intercollegiate Conference, the Trojans went 5-2, defeating USD-Springfield 31-0, Dakota Wesleyan 14-13, Black Hills State 17-13 and Huron and Sioux Falls colleges 3-0 and 20-8, respectively.
Dakota State’s only losses were the South Dakota Tech 17-7 and Northern State 30-18.
Back in 1971, however, there was no postseason action in the NAIA Division II.
“The coaching staff under the director of Coach (Lee) Moran felt that we should do something beyond the regular season,” said Tom Farrell, a recent retiree at Dakota State who was the school’s sports information director back in 1971.
“We gathered information, including statistics and then submitted our application to the Boot Hill Bowl Committee,” he added. “We felt it was a great opportunity to tell the story of how good a team we were.”
Moran was both proud and confident of his Trojans and knew they would make a good showing in any postseason game.
“This group of guys had unbelievable chemistry,” smiled Moran. “They all got along well with each other. They were always ready to go and get the job done. Many of the guys played beyond their physical abilities.”
Moran, who now operates Winning Edge Sales located in the Minneapolis area with his wife Maxine, still thinks that the Madison community’s pre-Boot Hill Bowl support played a key role in the team’s bowl game victory.
“You got to have a community that can support you,” he said. “There was no problem with the college and Madison to commit to purchasing 500 tickets to the game.”
“I’d be remiss if I did not mention the support of Bill and Bud Wenk of Wenk’s Hatchery, Wally Hanson and his staff at Northwest Bank, Chuck Skinner of the Park Hotel, Newcomb Motors, KJAM Radio, the Madison Daily Leader and Cal Mathison and all of East River group.”
Moran added, “Our players felt that they had all the support they needed to make the last 30 minutes of the game meaningful after trailing Northwestern Oklahoma State 20-3 at halftime.”
The former head coach was grateful that he got scoring from place-kicker Jim Ferguson, who produced the team’s three first-half points, along with second-half surge led by quarterback Daryl Fletcher, who added a 35-yard touchdown run, Mike Reed who scored from four-yards out. Then there was the big 80-yard touchdown bomb from Fletcher to Darwin Robinson near the end of the ballgame which put DSC in a 23-20 lead.
A proud Moran added, “We also received outstanding performances from Bob Allbaugh, Pat Behrns, Tom Shea, Randy Berlin and Bruce Rekstad in the secondary. We also got great contributions on both sides of the ball from Dan Stratton, Gary Johnson, Cliff Anderson, Darrell Davis, Bruce Pliner, Jim Tirrell, Dale Ziebarth, Rich Volz, Tom Rokusek, Mick Twiss, Steve Mirabello, Bruce Ickes and Sal Beraldi, along with backup quarterback Rick Wadsworth. Of course, there were all of those fine freshmen who contributed throughout the season and the march to the bowl game.”
When the game ended Fletcher was named to game’s most valuable player, going 15-for-26 for 216 yards.
Later that year, Behrns, Reed and Stratton were named All-SDIC players.
Moran said, “Many of these players went on to successful coaching and business careers.”
Included in that list is Shea, who is head football coach at Upper Iowa. Until recently when the University of Nebraska-Omaha cancelled its football program, Behrns had coached the Mustangs for 23 seasons.
Bob Casagrande, one of Moran’s freshmen in ’71, became the head of a successful financial advisors’ group in Iowa, and Robinson is the general manager of 10 insurance agencies in North Dakota. Fletcher has retired from teaching and coaching at Elk Point-Jefferson for many years, which also including being the president of the South Dakota Coaches’ Association.
The Boot Hill Bowl team was inducted into the Dakota State Athletic Hall of Fame in 1971. Players inducted into the Hall included: Robinson and Shea in 1995, Fletcher in 1973, Anthony Blanks (a freshman in 1971) in 2009 and Casagrande in 2011. Non-players were Moran and Farrell in 2009.
Dan Holsworth, Dakota State University Athletics Assistant
Edited by Nick Huntimer, Dakota State University Sports Information Director