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1972 Bucs in first-ever State Tourney

By Staff | Nov 18, 2012

Like everyone else in western Faribault County, I have a severe case of Buc Fever. And, I’m not talking about deer hunting.

Unless you live under a rock, you know that the Blue Earth Area Buccaneers are in the State Football Tournament, won their first game against last year’s champions, the Crusaders of St. Croix Lutheran, and now are playing the Perham Yellow Jackets on Saturday in the Metrodome.

Pretty awesome.

That game is being played after our deadline for this week’s Faribault County Register, but we will post the results on our website and our Facebook page. And, of course, have full coverage and photos in the next Register.

It is not the first time the Buccaneers have been in the State Tourney. They were in it just last year, 2011, when they lost their first game to those other Buccaneers from Waterville-Elysian-Morristown in a game played at Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter.

The Buccaneers were also in the State Tourney in 1990 and 2006 as Blue Earth Area.

It is also not the first time they have played in the Metrodome. That happened 22 years ago during that 1990 season.

But, did you know that exactly 40 years ago the Blue Earth Bucs played in the very first Minnesota State High School League State Football Tournament?

It was back in 1972.

Like this year, the Bucs of 1972 had a perfect season record, 9-0, that they took into the playoffs. Like last year, their first game in the State Tourney was played at Gustavus.

And, also like last year, they lost that first game and never made it into the finals to play for the State Championship.

Those Buccaneers of old were in Class A of the five classes (AA, A, B, C and 9-man) and were rated No. 1 by the Pioneer Press during the season. They were South Central Conference champions. The SCC at that time included Hutchinson and Glencoe as well as the teams still currently in it.

Blue Earth took on Burnsville in that first State Tournament game and lost 21-15.

The game was tied 15-15 going into the fourth quarter, when Burnsville recovered a punt touched by a Buc player and scored.

Burnsville went on to win the State Class A title that first year, defeating Sauk Centre 46-19 for the championship. The Bucs had played them as close as anyone.

During that 1972 season, the Bucs scored 303 points, while keeping their opponents to just 66. Total yards were 3,103 for Blue Earth (1,867 rushing, 1,236 passing) and 1,249 for the opponents.

Ed Schwen was the rushing leader with 665 yards on 112 carries and nine touchdowns. Bruce Larson had 545 yards on 88 totes and four touchdowns.

Randy Oltenburg was the passing leader with 69 completions for 1,173 yards and 17 touchdowns. Doug Judd led the receiving with 31 catches for 469 yards and 10 TDs. Bruce Larson had 15 catches for 309 yards and four touchdowns.

Bruce Brenckman led the defense with four interceptions and earned All-State honors.

Randy Schreiner kicked two field goals and 32 extra points.

Head coach of the team was Rich Oliphant, who left Blue Earth to coach at Faribault after the 1973 season. Assistant coaches included Dick Maher, Les Hintz and Chuck Fering, among others.

During the season the Bucs were behind at halftime in the game against Waseca.

Players say assistant coach Maher’s ‘motivational’ speech in the locker room at the half was what sparked the team on to victory in the second half.

“It was legendary,” says Bruce Ankeny, who was a junior on the team. “We learned some words we had never heard before.”

That was 40 years ago, and some of the players still remember every detail of the season, and that first State Tournament game, like it was yesterday.

Those who are still around, like Ankeny and Bill Christianson and Bohn Oelke, are just as excited about this year’s team, and are rooting for these 2012 Bucs, just like the fans of 1972 cheered for them.

“It’s just awesome,” Ankeny says. “Really exciting for the guys and for the fans, the whole community.”