The St. Francis Hall of Fame will have 30 new members this year.
The 1977 Saints football team, which came close to grabbing a state title, will be inducted into the Hall of Fame Oct. 5 as part of homecoming festivities.
Inducting the football team has come up several times and what the 30-member team did was unique, said Harry Grams, a member of the nominating committee.
They broke a four-year losing streak for the Saints, who racked up a 0-35 win-loss record during that time period, he said.
This team turned it around and went on to win third place in the state competition, Grams said.
It was also the beginning of several Saints teams following them to state competition, he said.
“It was very impressive,” said Grams, who was a St. Francis High School freshman in 1977.
Unfortunately, the team lost to Fridley Grace High School (now Totino Grace) 30-12, knocking the team out of state title contention.
“They were a talented bunch of guys and they were fun to watch,” Grams said.
Approximately 25 members are returning for homecoming and the induction, said Troy Ferguson, the team’s offensive guard and defensive tackle and one for four co-captains.
Some of the team members and coaching staff are coming from as far away as Sweden, Alaska and Colorado, he said.
“We were a tight bunch. And we still are,” Ferguson said.
As ninth-graders, the team was unbeaten, but that early success was eclipsed by defeats when they played varsity football in 10th- and 11th-grades, he said.
“We did not like getting beat and we got angry about it,” Ferguson said.
The team used that anger, started a new weight lifting workout and got bigger and stronger, he said.
Individual team members were very unselfish and made sure each member knew they were important, Ferguson said.
As seniors, they took the team all the way to the state competition.
In that last game they were up against Fridley Grace.
“We knew they were tough, but we knew we could beat them,” said co-captain Dave Walton.
“We wanted to be champs are at point.”
The game with Fridley Grace was close to the very end, Ferguson.
“It was a heck of a ride,” he said.
It was a shock to hear the team was being inducted, said co-captain Corey Gilbertson.
“It couldn’t happened to a better bunch of guys,” he said.
“I am just proud to be associated with this class and fortunate to have the young enthusiastic coaches that helped us develop into men of the community.”
The team also had wonderful fan support and the St. Francis fans are still wonderful, said Gilbertson, whose son is on the team this year.
Gilberston will be the second of his family to be inducted into the hall of fame. His father, Laverne Gilbertson, was inducted into the Hall of Fame as a coach and educator last year.
When the team returned home from that last game, there was a huge banner up congratulating the team and a lot of people to welcome them home, said Ferguson.
Tammy Sakry is at firstname.lastname@example.org