The high school football season ended over a month ago now, but if you are still needing to get that prep football fix, head over to the Stevens County Historical Society & Museum where one of their many exhibits on display right now focuses on football in Stevens County.
Gridiron Glory: A Look Back At Chokio-Alberta Football is a chance to relive some of the great memories that CA football has brought us for decades.
SCHSM Director Cam Erickson put the wheels in motion on the idea when she thought it would be fun for are residents to see first hand just how successful football in Stevens County has been, and how much it means to the communities there.
Erickson’s husband told her if you want to know about Stevens County football, a good place to start would be longtime Chokio-Alberta head coach Neal Hofland.
Erickson went to Hofland’s home to chat with Neal, gather information and take a look at some of his trophies and memorabilia. She quickly realized that one exhibit wouldn’t be enough to tell the story of Stevens County football, let alone Hofland’s Chokio-Alberta teams.
Hofland is a 2005 Minnesota High School Coaches Association Hall of Fame inductee following a 35 year coaching career in which he compiled 263 victories, good for 18th on the state’s all-time wins list.
Erickson decided to break the exhibit down by towns and teams, making it a yearly display with the hope that they can focus on a new program each fall and winter.
This year’s exhibit tells the story of Chokio-Alberta football, before and after the schools cooped, and runs through the highs and lows surrounding the program, which was no more evident than the 1993 team that won a state title, but dealt with tragedy along the way.
It begins with the George Dieter coaching era, before moving on to Hofland’s tenure which includes 17 conference championships, six section titles, and two state championship winning teams from 1991 and 1993.
Hofland and longtime assistant John Mithun ran a two-man coaching staff, which as Hofland put it, “meant no coaching staff meetings, all it took was a look at we were on the same page.”
Most of the items in the exhibit were donated by Hofland from his personal collection. Other pieces were loaned to the museum, or owned by the museum itself.
Erickson said the most rewarding aspect for her is when family members and friends of the players come in to see pictures or read about their son, sibling, or friend and end up reliving the plays or games that stood out to them.
The exhibit is open now until February 28th at Stevens County Historical Society & Museum, located at 116 west 6th St. in Morris.