Coach preps North team for annual all-star football game

Coach preps North team for annual all-star football game

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Coach preps North team for annual all-star football game

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There are a number of reasons Dwight Lundeen is looking forward to assuming head coaching duties for the North team in next Saturday’s 40th annual Minnesota High School All-Star Football Game.

The first is familial. His son Mike, who is a member of his staff in Becker, will run the North offense.

“The first time I did this (leading the then-Outstate team to a 30-7 victory over the Metro in 1994) my son Matt was the Outstate quarterback,” said Lundeen, who will report to St. John’s with the North and South all-stars on Sunday for a week of practices leading up to the game itself at 1 p.m. next Saturday at St. Cloud State’s Husky Stadium.

“Now this time, Mike will be running the offense for me. That’s kind of a special thing.”

The second reason is reconnecting. Lundeen was also able to add former assistant coach Tom Chirhart to the North coaching staff. Chirhart served as Lundeen’s defensive coordinator for 25 seasons before stepping away 10 years ago.

“They have a spot on staff that allows you to pick a retired coach, so I contacted him and asked him if he wanted to do this one more time with me,” said Lundeen, a member of the Minnesota Football Coaches Association’s Hall of Fame who boasts a career record of 309-142 in 43 seasons at Becker.

“It will be fun to coach with him again.”

And the third reason Lundeen welcomes the chance to take on all-star duties this week is the fact that it will give him one more chance to coach now-former Becker star Brett Watercott before he heads off to play at Augustana this fall.

The 5-foot-11, 190-pound Watercott is a member of the North squad. He caught 48 passes for 962 yards and 15 touchdowns while helping lead Becker to a 10-2 record and a berth in the Class 4A state semifinals last fall. For those efforts, he was named the 2012 Times’ All-Area player of the year.

“He’ll play receiver for us this week,” Lundeen said. “Augustana is looking at him as a defensive back. But we’ll play him on the offensive side of the ball. We’ll be running the Becker offense and he knows that pretty well. So that should be a big advantage for him.”

Watercott is one of a number of area athletes who will play for the North team.

Also included in that group are Pierz running back Josh Lanners, St. Cloud Tech running back Jake Peterson, Rocori linebacker Adam Dingmann, Rocori defensive lineman Nick Thorpe, Melrose defensive lineman Mitch Niehaus, Monticello defensive lineman Birk Olson and Sauk Rapids offensive lineman Trevor Waldorf.

“I’ve done this before and you find that the players you’re working with have a pretty good learning curve,” Lundeen said. “They pick things up pretty quickly because they’re all great football players.

“You don’t want to give them more than they can handle. But you can do a lot with these guys.”

Peterson said he’s looking forward to playing in front of a home crowd and representing Tech one last time.

“I definitely want to go out there and finish with a bang,” said Peterson, who plans to walk on at Division I-AA North Dakota State this fall. “I want to leave people with a strong impression of what Tech football is all about.

“It’s going to be nice to be playing so close to home. Other players have to travel. But I get to stay close by and play one more time on what was our home field (Husky Stadium) last fall.”

The game will also showcase a number of athletes who will play collegiately at both St. John’s and St. Cloud State starting this fall.

The Johnnies have 10 recruits in the game: Niehaus, Centennial running back Michael Diggins, North Branch quarterback Zach Sundly and Aitkin defensive back/wide receiver Peter Zasmeta are members of the North team. Prior Lake linebacker Parker Anderson and offensive and defensive lineman Ryan Landherr, Blue Earth linebacker Carter Hanson, South St. Paul linebacker Jack Pietruszewski, Lester Prairie/Holy Trinity offensive lineman Peyton Thiry and Eden Prairie offensive lineman Tony Yost are on the South roster.

The Huskies have two recruits in the game: Waldorf and Minnewaska offensive lineman Nathan Snider.

The North squad is scheduled to hold its first practice at 6 p.m. Sunday at Clemens Stadium. The South will follow at 7:30 p.m.

“The object is to play good football and be entertaining,” Lundeen said. “The outcome isn’t overly critical. But hopefully all these players will have a great experience this week and form some new friendships with their teammates.”

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