Kirk Midthun walks through the cheerleader’s arch on Friday night. Photo by Jim Hanson
By Ruth Hanson
A happy crowd of about 150 people enjoyed dinner in the Triton school cafeteria as they recognized the first ever group of Triton Hall of Fame teams, athletes, coaches and a supporter on September 22, 2012.
The first team to be recognized, the 1952 Dodge Center football team, completed its season unbeaten, untied, and the only team in the state unscored upon - twenty-fifth in the state rankings.
"Wally Hitt used to say, 'without a doubt, this was the best team that ever played in the Wasioja Conference,'" Jerry Head said.
There were only 26 kids in the senior class, and the team went 13 games without being scored upon. The Dodgers gained 9.9 yards per snap.
"They were unique and unbelievable," Hitt said.
The team was not recognized at the banquet by any former player.
The 1966 Claremont Parrots, coached by Ken Behnken, beat New Richland, Janesville and then upset Kenyon 76-63 in one of the finest games ever played by a Claremont team. They lost to a much larger Northfield team to end their season.
The 1984 West Concord football team was represented by Guy Finne and Coach Scott Ellingson at the banquet.
"We had a great team," Finne said.
They ended their year 11-1 and were Wasioja Conference Champions and the section champions. Chad Gossard, Scott Streiff, Tim Schaefer, Guy Finne and Mike Ackerman were All-Conference and Scott was All-State.
"We accept this honor humbly," Finne said. "It took the best to beat us. The teams a year or two ahead of us taught us pretty much everything we knew."
Wally Hitt was the coach chosen to be the first recognized in the Hall of Fame. He was inducted into the Minnesota High School Football Hall of Fame in 1982. His son Brad accepted the Triton award for him.
Coach Hitt coached Dodge Center football from 1950 to 1967, amassing 106 wins. His 1952 team outscored opponents 357-0, ending the season with a 70-0 win over Lewiston. The team's average margin of victory was 51 points.
The Hitts moved to Winona in 1967 where he became the principal of Winona Senior High School. He received the Minnesota State Principal of the Year honor in 1981. Upon his death in 1985, Ed Spencer, the Assistant Principal of Winona High, said, "He coached like he did everything, complete and prepared. There isn't a person here who didn't like him. He ran a tight ship, was well organized and was respected by his peers and students."
He was also a high school basketball referee for many years and was selected to referee the Minnesota High School Basketball Tournament in 1964, 1965 and 1966. The Wally Hitt Athletic Field at Triton is named for him.
Lenny Schmoll was recognized as the Triton Supporter. He is a 1973 graduate of Claremont High School, where he excelled in football, basketball and baseball. He participated in summer softball and in men's winter basketball in Owatonna.
Read the rest of the story in the print edition of the Star Herald.