Celebrating 105 years of gridiron glory

Former players entered the field and were introduced by decade. Six players from the 1950s attended. Pictured are, left to right, John Komarek, Gene Bisek, Don Simek, Fritz Kalina and Jim Walker. Not pictured is Larry Sirek. (Chuck Kajer Photo)

New Prague High School celebrated 105 years of Trojan football with a reunion of former members of NPHS teams at Trojan Field Friday, Oct. 11.

            All former players, coaches, cheerleaders and others associated with the program were invited to attend the celebration, which included tailgating outside the stadium gate prior to the 7 p.m. game. According to Tony Buthe, the former Trojan football coach who organized the event,  there were between 250 to 300 former players, coaches and others who attended.

            The event included six former players who played in the 1950s: John Komarek, Fritz Kalina, Jim Walker, Gene Bisek, Don Simek and Larry Sirek. Also included were four former head coaches, Vernon “Chub” Ebnet, Steve Collins, Dan O’Brien and Buthe. Those four, along with current coach Jim Benick, were introduced prior to the start of the game. The former players lined up by decades and paraded across the field at halftime.

            Those attending shared memories and talked about what it was like to play Trojan football. Dr. John Komarek, a member of the school’s Hall of Fame, was an All-State player who graduated in 1951. He talked about running the single wing. Dick Milinkovich, who played in the 1960s and was an assistant coach in the ‘70s, talked about how the game had changed since his playing days, and members of the Trojan state championship teams of 1973 and ‘74, such as Fritz Smisek, Mark Lukkes, Ron Schoenecker, Glen Steinhoff and others, relived their “Glory Days,” playing for the late John Bush. Smisek and Lukkes both wore their state championship T-shirts from 1973, noting that they could still fit into them 40 years later. Members of the 1985 state championship team, including Steve Tupy, Brad Biehn and Eric Dorzinski, also enjoyed reminiscing about their Prep Bowl win over Mora.

            Also attending were a number of former assistant coaches with the Trojans, who enjoyed visiting with the former players and in some cases getting back in touch with their former colleagues who have moved on to other schools.

            Many of the alumni stayed to the end of the game and watched the current Trojan squad pick up its first win of the season in a thrilling 14-13 win over Red Wing.

es Dir�r rJ����rsch and Education Service Director Tony Buthe, went over portions of the district’s strategic plan that was adopted in 2010, and looked at how the district has progressed in terms of goals that were set three years ago. Each talked about how the district has worked at achieving those goals and how the goals may need to be adapted for the future. Board members will discuss the findings at a future board meeting.



Kindergarten decision

            Dittberner briefed board members on the process they will need to take in order to make a decision on changing to all day-every day kindergarten. The Minnesota Legislature voted last spring to fully fund such a program beginning in 2014-15. The process will include parent surveys, informational meetings, presentations to the board by principals and teachers, and a study on the financial impact of making the move. Dittberner said he would expect the board to make a decision in late January or early February, with kindergarten registration set for late February.


Stadium update

            Dittberner told board members that he, Buildings and Grounds Director Craig Most and Activities Director Brad Skogerboe were part of a group that met with architects to discuss the renovation of the district’s athletic stadium. They expect to have a drawing of the plan available soon. The new stadium will have a high-level synthetic turf, a wider field so it can be utilized for soccer, a 9-lane track, and improved drainage and lighting. He also said the district would be looking for sponsorships for a new scoreboard and would be using its own staff to build a new press box and to install new fencing.