They did it!! Our DeForest Area High School Football Norskies won the Wisconsin State Football Championship! It was a hard-fought game at Camp Ran-dall on Nov. 22. DeForest trailed Menesha for nearly the entire game, 7-0. Then in the final one minute and 15 seconds, the Norskies marched 63 yards for their only touchdown of the game. With 30 seconds to go, Gabe Finley caught a pass from Trey Schroeder for a 13-yard touchdown and DeForest was just one point behind. The decision was made to go for the two-point conversion. If they made the play, they would win the game. If the play failed, the game would be lost. Both teams lined up in a tight formation. The ball was snapped and it looked like the DeForest runner was stopped short of the goal line. But no, it was a fake hand-off and quarterback Trey Schroder still had the ball. He threw a perfect two-handed jump pass to Nolan Hawk who had circled behind the pile-up at the goal line. Final score: 8-7 DeForest!
I have been fortunate to see our Norskies compete in five state championship games and they managed to win two of them. They beat Oconto Falls in 1982 and Menesha this year.
DeForest Coach, Mike Minick, played for DeForest in the 1982 game and then came full circle to be the head football coach for the 2019 Norskies. He announced earlier this season that this will be his last year coaching.
DeForest was runner-up to Kimberly in 2007 Championship Game.They lost to Mosinee in two championship games in the early 1980s.
The DeForest area rallied behind the team this year. There was a big pep rally the night before the game. On Saturday morning with sirens blowing and lights flashing, DeForest fire trucks, and police cars gave the players’ bus a hero’s sendoff to Camp Randall. The bus received a hero’s welcome back to DeForest as first responders vehicles met the bus at the city limits followed by several cars filled with fans and led them on a parade through town and back to the high school.
DeForest football has a long and proud history. Woodrow “Dutch” Stalder founded the first football team back in the early 1940s. It was an eight-man team for a number of years until the high school enrollment was large enough to play 11 men on the field. Stalder was head coach until 1967 and the team gained a reputation as a top competitor in the Madison Suburban Conference.
In 1968, Jerry Roelke took over leadership of the program. The Norskies won several conference championships and participated in many post-season games under Roelke, who was enshrined in the Wisconsin Coaches Hall of Fame. He led the Norskies to a state championship in 1982. He retired in 1999.
Mike Minnick became head coach in 2000 and the team continued in its winning ways, winning conference championships and competing in state tournament games. It came to a big climax on Nov. 22, 2019 when DeForest won the Division 3 Championship and a few days later the Wisconsin Coaches Association named Mike Minick as Wisconsin Coach of the year.
Congratulations to the DeForest football team and Coach Minick on a fantastic year!