Bethlehem Academy's first five, football program all grown up now

  • Article by: JASON GONZALEZ , Star Tribune
  • Updated: November 21, 2012 - 9:14 PM

A youth footbal program launched with five hopeful sixth-graders sprouted into a proud Prep Bowl squad at Bethlehem Academy.

Resting against a wall in the Bethlehem Academy coaches office is a memento to the program's change of course: a nicely framed photo of five sixth-graders in Cardinals uniforms.

"This is the first group of kids to start the youth program," coach Scott Hanson said of the boys posing on the Metrodome turf. "These are the pioneers of the first group of kids we started putting a lot of time into."

The photo of the youth league champions from six years ago includes Tim Angell, Matt Siegfried, Joe Zweber, Dylan Valentyn and Jacob Kuhlman, examples of the commitment required to fulfill Hanson's vision for the program.

This group, along with the majority of this year's 17 seniors, were part of the youth start-up team that has transformed the football presence of the Faribault-based Catholic school of 195 students and led it to its first-ever berth in a Prep Bowl championship game.

Hanson started the program with hopes of linking youth football to the school in a way that would change the school's mediocre football performance and decreasing number of players.

He didn't have to go far to find the connection.

Across the street from the high school is a Catholic elementary school, Divine Mercy. Most of the kids who played football took part in the city parks and recreation program, often competing against one another.

Hanson, using an idea that worked for him in his previous job in South Dakota, talked to parents about creating a school-based program for third- through sixth-graders. Kids would play together against grade-based teams from the area and received training consistent with the high school program.

"In sixth grade we got to play together. I thought it was great for the program," Valentyn said. "A big part of our team is chemistry and being able to execute. I think [the youth league] is a big part of our success."

This success helped the Cardinals advance to the state tournament for the first time. They will play unbeaten Mahnomen, making its 21st tournament appearance, in the Class 1A championship game at 10 a.m. Saturday.

Since implementing the youth movement, Bethlehem Academy's football roster has jumped from an average of 28 players in the mid-2000s to 51 this season. The youth program, led by Hanson on Tuesday and Thursday nights, provides the development that he believes has helped lead to Saturday's milestone.

"We looked at things and decided we needed to change the culture, the camaraderie and the team atmosphere," Hanson said.

It wasn't hard to recognize the change, Angell said.

"I'm grateful for the coaches for starting that program," he said. "We made goals as sixth-graders to come back here and play in a state championship. We made it a priority."

The Cardinals are still learning along the way. After watching film on Monday, the coach reminded his players how to speak to the press and that their presence at the Prep Bowl is part of the culture of success.

The pioneers believe they have changed the course of Bethlehem Academy football for the foreseeable future.

"We got us a little taste of it when we were younger," Zweber said. "Now I think it helps kids get interested to play. When the younger kids see us make it to state, I think they'll want to come to Bethlehem Academy. It's awesome making history at our school."

Jason Gonzalez • 612-673-4494 Twitter: @JGonStrib

  • related content

  • Bethlehem Academy seniors held a picture of themselves from left, Tim Angell, Matt Siegfried, Joe, Zweber, Dylan Valentyn and Jacob Kuhlman.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Tennessee 12/18/14 7:25 PM
Jacksonville
Philadelphia 12/20/14 3:30 PM
Washington
San Diego 12/20/14 7:25 PM
San Francisco
Minnesota 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Miami
Baltimore 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Houston
Detroit 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Chicago
Cleveland 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Carolina
Atlanta 12/21/14 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Green Bay 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Kansas City 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Pittsburgh
New England 12/21/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
NY Giants 12/21/14 3:05 PM
St. Louis
Buffalo 12/21/14 3:25 PM
Oakland
Indianapolis 12/21/14 3:25 PM
Dallas
Seattle 12/21/14 7:30 PM
Arizona
Denver 12/22/14 7:30 PM
Cincinnati
Atlanta 127 FINAL
Cleveland 98
Phoenix 111 FINAL
Charlotte 106
Dallas 117 FINAL
Detroit 106
Utah 105 FINAL
Miami 87
Orlando 92 FINAL
Boston 109
Brooklyn 86 4th Qtr 1:22
Toronto 102
Memphis 75 4th Qtr 10:58
San Antonio 70
Milwaukee 14 1st Qtr 3:54
Portland 9
Houston 9:30 PM
Denver
Indiana 9:30 PM
LA Clippers
Ottawa 2 FINAL
New Jersey 0
Boston 2 3rd Prd 5:45
Minnesota 2
Dallas 0 1st Prd 10:42
Vancouver 0
Langston 65 FINAL
North Texas 78
Delaware State 72 FINAL
St Francis-NY 64
James Madison 72 FINAL
Ball State 52
SIU Edwardsville 65 FINAL
Campbell 70
St Francis-PA 67 FINAL
Duquesne 52
North Florida 77 FINAL
Florida State 93
Catawba 69 FINAL
George Mason 99
Ferrum 48 FINAL
High Point 106
Hampton 55 FINAL
Illinois 73
Gardner-Webb 65 FINAL
Jacksonville 68
Longwood 60 FINAL
Miami-Ohio 71
Arkansas State 69 FINAL
Miss State 55
Tennessee 72 FINAL
NC State 83
NC A&T 55 FINAL
Ohio State 97
Manhattan 56 FINAL
Pittsburgh 65
Robert Morris 57 FINAL
Toledo 83
Char Southern 58 FINAL
Wofford 64
Kennesaw St 90 FINAL
Youngstown St 84
Barber-Scotia 52 FINAL
NC Central 108
Detroit 70 FINAL
UCF 75
Liberty 70 FINAL
UNC-Wilmington 73
TX A&M-CC 73 FINAL
Denver 83
Ark-Pine Bluff 61 FINAL
Houston 56
UT Martin 54 FINAL
Illinois State 64
Milligan 76 FINAL
Louisiana 115
Abilene Christian 44 FINAL
Loyola-Chicago 83
USC Upstate 73 FINAL
Memphis 83
Alcorn State 56 FINAL
Murray State 94
Central Mich 80 FINAL
Northwestern 67
Georgia State 54 FINAL
Old Dominion 58
TX-Pan American 69 FINAL
Saint Louis 75
Ill-Chicago 46 FINAL
SMU 67
Texas State 60 FINAL
Stephen F Austin 66
SC State 39 FINAL
Texas Tech 101
Missouri State 70 FINAL
Tulsa 74
Chicago State 60 FINAL
Western Ky 75
Morehead State 50 FINAL
Green Bay 66
Northern Colorado 82 FINAL
Nebraska Omaha 92
Winthrop 40 2nd Half 17:48
Auburn 42
New Mexico St 35 2nd Half 12:30
Baylor 47
San Diego St 32 2nd Half 15:19
Cincinnati 30
Eastern Mich 27 2nd Half 15:16
Michigan State 41
Loyola Marymount 45 2nd Half 9:43
Stanford 44
Incarnate Word 53 2nd Half 13:43
Grand Canyon 59
Northeastern 16 1st Half 8:05
Cal Poly 10
Central Arkansas 16 1st Half 12:39
New Mexico 7
Howard 5 1st Half 12:58
Pepperdine 10
Portland 9:30 PM
UNLV
CS-Northridge 10:00 PM
Oregon
Grambling St 10:00 PM
Washington
Nevada 12/20/14 10:00 AM
Louisiana
Utah State 12/20/14 1:20 PM
Texas-El Paso
(23) Utah 12/20/14 2:30 PM
Colorado State
Western Mich 12/20/14 4:45 PM
Air Force
South Alabama 12/20/14 8:15 PM
Bowling Green
BYU 12/22/14 1:00 PM
Memphis
Marshall 12/23/14 5:00 PM
Northern Ill
Navy 12/23/14 8:30 PM
San Diego St
Central Mich 12/24/14 11:00 AM
Western Ky
Fresno State 12/24/14 7:00 PM
Rice
Western Carolina 79 FINAL
UNC-Asheville 66
(21) Miss State 66 FINAL
Louisiana 51
(25) DePaul 109 FINAL
Loyola-Chicago 84
Liberty 64 FINAL
NC State 67
Elon 77 FINAL
Campbell 51
Akron 73 FINAL
UCF 64
Richmond 77 FINAL
UNC-Wilmington 67
Montana 70 FINAL
Seattle 64
(7) Stanford 46 FINAL
Chattanooga 54
Florida A&M 69 FINAL
Southern U 80
Oklahoma 72 FINAL
(13) Duke 92
Savannah State 56 FINAL
Auburn 62
Northern Colorado 43 FINAL
South Florida 84
Youngstown St 73 FINAL
Robert Morris 65
Siena 75 FINAL
Sacred Heart 65
Vermont 63 FINAL
St Francis-NY 61
(1) South Carolina 69 FINAL
Hampton 49
Fla Gulf Coast 91 FINAL
Bethune-Cookman 46
Texas Southern 92 FINAL
Houston Baptist 80
Northwestern 88 FINAL
UNLV 84
NC A&T 70 FINAL
Appalachian St 72
NC Central 52 FINAL
Coastal Carolina 67
Drexel 50 FINAL
Quinnipiac 74
Cincinnati 52 FINAL
Northern Ky 66
Alabama State 53 FINAL
Georgia Tech 77
Morehead St 69 FINAL
USC Upstate 75
Arkansas State 59 FINAL
Kent State 44
American Univ 60 FINAL
Manhattan 52
UNC Greensboro 60 FINAL
St Bonaventure 78
Arkansas-Monticello 56 FINAL
Northwestern St 61
Prairie View 70 FINAL
Sam Houston St 51
McNeese State 59 FINAL
(3) Texas 76
Yale 90 FINAL
Wagner 65
Oakland 61 FINAL
TX A&M-CC 54
Eastern Kentucky 62 FINAL
Alabama A&M 56
SIU-Edwardsville 47 FINAL
Northern Ill 69
McMurry 25 FINAL
TX-Arlington 82
Portland 50 2nd Half 5:01
Eastern Washington 57
North Texas 0 1st Half 13:08
San Francisco 6

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Who is your favorite pro sports coach in the Twin Cities?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close