John’s Journal: Top 10 Honorable Mention Countdown
The Rostberg Name Will Live Forever In Hutchinson
Posted: Monday, June 27, 2022 - 12:43 PM
Here we go, taking our first step in counting down my favorite John’s Journal stories from the 2021-22 school year. As noted here previously, this summer exercise has become an annual tradition that makes me smile while looking back through the stories I have posted between August and June. Remembering the people I was fortunate enough to interview and photograph, and then write about, is absolutely wonderful.
In settling on a Top 10, my process begins with a look through every story. After that initial view this time around, my list consisted of 29 stories. I realized that choosing only 10 would be extremely difficult, so we’re beginning today with one of the stories that has been designated as Honorable Mention.
There will be five Honorable Mention stories this year, re-posted one at a time before I begin unveiling the Top 10, in order from No. 10 down to No. 1.
Today’s Honorable Mention story was originally posted on Nov. 24, during the football state semifinals at U.S. Bank Stadium. Hutchinson defeated Orono 36-6 in the Class 4A semifinals, putting them in the Prep Bowl a week later, in which they won the state title with a 42-14 win over Kasson-Mantorville.
There have been father-son coaching combinations in Minnesota in many sports. The Rostbergs of Hutchinson are something special. Grady Rostberg was the Tigers head coach from 1970 until 1999, when his son Andy became head coach. After the Prep Bowl, father and son each had won three state titles as head coach.
Here’s the story from last November…
In several ways, football is very special at Hutchinson High School. Home games for the Tigers at S.R. Knutson Field provide a stellar example of tradition, with big crowds that include townspeople who tape blankets to bleacher seats hours before kickoff in order to have an optimum view of the action.
The tradition also includes lots of success under the first family of Minnesota high school football coaches. Hutchinson will play in its seventh Prep Bowl game this week, taking a 11-1 record into Friday’s 4 o’clock Class 4A state championship against Kasson-Mantorville (9-3) at U.S. Bank Stadium.
The Tigers won championships in 1983, 1984, 1998, 2012, 2013 and were state runners-up in 2003. Those first three crowns came with Grady Rostberg as the head coach; his son Andy was the quarterback in 1983 and 1984 and the offensive coordinator in 1998.
Grady became the Tigers coach in 1970 and Andy took over when Grady retired in 1999. If the Tigers defeat Kasson-Mantorville, Andy will match his dad’s three state titles.
The Rostbergs are Minnesota’s No. 1 father-son coaching combination in career wins. Their combined record is 482-137-1; Grady’s record is 277-89-1 and Andy is 205-48. Grady continues to contribute as a volunteer, watching from the press box with assistant coaches on game days.
It’s pretty amazing to think that the last time someone other than a Rostberg coached the Tigers, the Woodstock music festival was taking place and Neil Armstrong was walking on the moon. (The coach prior to Grady was Bill Snyder, who stepped down from coaching when he was named principal.)
Another layer of tradition will be added to Hutchinson football next season when S.R. Knutson Field will be given an additional name to honor the Rostbergs. When a proposal to do so was submitted to the school board, it included these words: “to honor the Rostberg family who has done so much for Hutchinson student-athletes on and off the field for more than the past 50 years … the Rostberg family has and continues to make an impact on many levels.”
The Hutchinson gym was named “Whalen Gymnasium” in 2018 in honor of basketball legend Lindsay Whalen … whose high school basketball coach was Andy Rostberg.
The football facility’s name will be something along the lines of “Rostberg Stadium at S.R. Knutson Field,” with the Rostberg name attached to new facilities that include bleachers, lights and a press box. Efforts are also being made to add a turf field to the facility at some point in the future. S.R. Knutson was the superintendent when the original field was built.
After Hutchinson defeated Orono 36-6 in last week’s state semifinals, Andy Rostberg was asked about the town’s football tradition.
“That's the dream,” he said, “one town, one team, one dream. And we always say when we win, we all win, everybody wins. When somebody calls and says, ‘How did the Tigers do?,’ we don't say, ‘They won.’ We say ‘We won,’ because you’re part of that, the town is a part of that. It's kind of fun to share it with as many people as you can.”
The current Tigers were little kids when the team won its last state title in 2013. The 2021 Tigers lost only to Becker, the team Kasson-Mantorville rallied to beat 24-20 in the state semifinals.
Talking about his players, especially the seniors, Rostberg said last week, “They've got one more chapter in the book that they would like to write for 2021 and I know we're all excited. We talk about it all the time. Now we get to go hang out for one more week, now we know when the last practice of the season is and that doesn't happen very often. We've got four more practices and one game.”
--MSHSL media specialist John Millea has been the leading voice of Minnesota high school activities for decades. Follow him on Twitter @MSHSLjohn and listen to "Preps Today with John Millea” wherever you get podcasts. Contact John at email@example.com