Thole: Mutschler and Hoeppner are HOF bound

Former Stillwater basketball coaches Duane Mutschler, above, and George Hoeppner, below, are among the five members of this year’s induction class for the St. Croix Valley Athletic Hall of Fame. Mutschler is shown with current hall of famer Chris Engler, middle, and Dean Anderson, right, who is among a group of 12 past achievers who will be honored this year.

Former Stillwater basketball coaches Duane Mutschler, above, and George Hoeppner, below, are among the five members of this year’s induction class for the St. Croix Valley Athletic Hall of Fame. Mutschler is shown with current hall of famer Chris Engler, middle, and Dean Anderson, right, who is among a group of 12 past achievers who will be honored this year.

Among the five newcomers to the St. Croix Valley Athletic Hall of Fame are former SAHS basketball coaches Duane Mutschler (boys) and George Hoeppner (girls). They will join Stillwater grads Adam Berkhoel ’99, Molly (Miller) Casey ’99 and the late Don Buege ’48 in this year’s induction class.

8-29 spo-thole Hoeppner bThe banquet is set for Sept. 18 at the Grand Ballroom in Stillwater and starts with a social hour at 6 p.m., with program to follow. Tickets are going for $30 per copy and $240 for a table of eight.

Also on tap for the evening will be honoring past achievers, including “The Voice of the Valley” Jim Ratte, former Gazette columnist Jim McLaughlin, Dorothy (Simonet) Kilty, Gerhard Riebe, Jim Doe, Howard Hanson, Jim O’Brien, Bob Bliss, Kevin Meinke, Dean Anderson, Mary Blickenderfer and Dan Carlson.

I taught alongside Mutschler for five lustrums and watched him compile some of his 424-247 coaching record — and most of his SAHS mark of  370-232, which included six trips to the state tournament and seven conference titles.

Mutschler’s 1997 Ponies (23-6) were the state runner-ups to Minneapolis North and his 1989 outfit placed third at state. Prior to arriving in Stillwater 1972, he coached at Luverne for three seasons (54-15), leading the Cardinals to the 1971 state tourney. Pine Island was his first coaching stop.

Mutschler played football at Winona State University and was a solid football official in both high school and college arenas. He received the Outstanding Officials Award from the National Football Foundation in 2009. Mutschler was inducted into the Minnesota Basketball Coaches Hall of Fame in 2004.

Stillwater High School had girls’ basketball teams date back to the 1920s, but was discontinued for many years until resurrected by Hoeppner in 1975. He compiled a record of 254-139 during his 18-year tenure.

The Big Red Ponies, who captured four conference titles, advanced to the state tournament in 1984 and again in 1988.

Hoeppner coached the Stillwater softball team during its inaugural season in 1975 and also served as an assistant baseball coach during his career, which started at Durand High School in Wisconsin. He is a current member of the District 834 Board of Education and previously served as its chairman.

This is the 13th Annual St. Croix Valley Athletics Hall of Fame Banquet, which is sponsored by the VAA. The reservations are due by Sept. 9 and they are payable to S.C.V.A.A. Registrations can be sent to: Hall of Fame Committee, PO Box 44, Stillwater, MN 55082.

 

Today’s Sports Trivia

Name the first girls’ soccer coach at SAHS?

 

In the huddle

Congrats to Hannah Heacox and Sean Bjork for being the 2013 Jim McLaughlin Scholarship Award winners. I’m sure the $2,500 scholarship will come in handy. Heacox set a school record with 524 strikeouts during her five-year varsity softball career. She was

Recent Stillwater grads Sean Bjork, left, and Hannah Heacox were this year’s recipients of the Jim McLaughlin Scholarship.

Recent Stillwater grads Sean Bjork, left, and Hannah Heacox were this year’s recipients of the Jim McLaughlin Scholarship.

the Minnesota Gatorade Player of the Year and the Trib’s Player of the Year. Heacox will take her talents to Gustavus Adolphus this fall. Bjork has been a major cog in four Ponies state championships, including two each in cross country and track. He also was a standout in Nordic skiing and will continue to run at St. Olaf College in Northfield…. I took in the five-team football scrimmage on Saturday at Maple Grove High School on Saturday morning with son Eric Thole and grandson Kevin. After watching coach Beau LaBore’s third edition at SAHS engaging Maple Grove, Totino-Grace and Lakeville North, I gave their effort a “B” grade — that’s about par for the course. The locals did enough good things to make me believe that they should be among the state’s top 10 teams, but they also need enough work that LaBore and his staff will have their undivided attention leading up to tonight’s season opener at Park-Cottage Grove. The start time for the game has been moved back to 8 p.m., in anticipation of sweltering weather conditions. Trevor Tillett (6-foot-1, 175 pounds) should have a fine year at quarterback, especially with a tight end target like junior Matt Anderson (6-4, 225). With veterans like junior running back Zach Knox (5-10, 175), tackle Peter Palacek (6-4, 305) and tackle Nick Brevitz (6-7, 255), the offense should be sound. I was sorry to hear that guard Ryan Peltier, who started eight games last fall, suffered a season-ending leg injury in practice. His dad Louis Peltier was the starting center on my first team at Stillwater in 1971. The Ponies defense has less experience, except for 6-foot-3, 200-pounder Mitchell Schertz, who started 10 games at the end of 2012. I noticed Haden Hausken (6-0, 225) at tackle and remembered his dad Matt Hausken as an all-state running back on our 1982 11-1 state championship team. From our Fairmeadows neighborhood is junior d-lineman Ryan Floen (5-11, 225). The Ponies wore different jersey numbers for the scrimmages so I will have to do my homework as the only other player I know is junior DB Joey Freichels, who missed the scrum because of a sprained ankle…. Four Stillwater baseball players were on the Green All-Star Team that won the 10AAA title at the August Classic, sponsored by the Metro Baseball League. Quinn Kelley, Gavin Zurn, Andy Howard and Kade Peloquin were among the members honored at the Saints game Sunday and the Twins game Tuesday night…. Former All-Metro placekicker Derek Johnson of the 1996 Ponies (12-1, TCS and section champions), who later kicked for Winona State, and his lovely wife Amanda celebrated the birth of their daughter Allie Grace (7 pounds, 11 ounces, 20 inches) in April…. Answer to Today’s Sports Trivia: Jeannine Hoffbeck started the girls’ soccer program at Stillwater in 1984…. All of us loyal former North Dakota State University football players, cheerleaders and students old and new will be pulling for the Bison tomorrow night when they invade Manhattan, Kansas for a friendly with Kansas State. The two-time defending FCS National Champions (14-1) will be solid underdogs to the FBS K-State Wildcats (11-2). NDSU has performed well against FBS schools in recent years, going 2 of 3 with Minnesota, 2 for 2 with Central Michigan and also picking up wins against Kansas, Colorado State and Ball State (the Bison did lose to Wyoming. Friday’s game will be televised nationally on Fox Sports One. Kick-off is 7:30 p.m…. Together we build courage, character and loyalty…. finis

 

Today’s rumination #631

In the middle of every difficulty lies opportunity.

• • • •

George Thole retired as head football coach at Stillwater after the 1999 season. He ranks among Minnesota’s top coaches in history with a 285-69-2 record (.805 winning percentage), including four state titles and two state runner-up finishes among 22 championship seasons. He co-authored (with Jerry Foley) “Coaching the Veer Offense,” second edition. His column appears Thursdays in the Gazette. To contact the hall of fame coach e-mail: georgethole@gmail.com

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