HJ-ED-DHJHerald Journal Columns
November 19, 2007

A blast from the past

By Aaron Schultz

Rarely to never do I watch the local evening news any more.

The reason? No real good one, other than the fact that I usually catch the news in the morning before work.

However, I will, from time-to-time, tune in to KARE 11 at around 10:24 p.m. to watch Randy Shaver and the sports – only because I like some of his segments on high school sports, as well as the coverage he gives to all things high school sports.

Last Monday night, home early from throwing darts, I changed, put up my feet, turned to channel 11, and sat back to watch the local sports news.

As I turned on channel 11, I had to do a double take, as I saw what appeared to be old highlights of the Silver Lake Lakeites playing football in the Metrodome.

Now, it has been a long time since I’ve seen those Lakeites uniforms, but it had to be, I just knew it.

Well, before I even had time to doubt myself, there the big goofy looking fellow on the screen was.

That goofy looking guy I am talking about is Jeff Monahan, or Satch as he is better known – at least to me.

Okay, so what in the heck was Shaver doing interviewing Monahan and showing highlights of the one of the great 1980s Silver Lake football teams.

Well, Shaver does a weekly “where are they now” feature, which is where he looks up great high school athletes of the past and sees where they are now. Just as the title says, and last Monday it was Silver Lake’s time to shine.

This got me thinking back to my much younger days attending Lester Prairie Schools.

Growing up in Lester Prairie, all I could ever remember as a kid was how good Silver Lake was in 9-man football.

I remember the days being a waterboy for the varsity football team, and watching the team get pummeled by the Lakeites.

I also have a vague memory of playing Silver Lake in youth football and just getting annihilated by them.

Oh, those were the days – just kidding.

As a kid growing up when we thought of a powerhouse in football we thought of Silver Lake.

Why would we think such a thing? Well, because it was true, all through the ‘80s.
Silver Lake made its first state tournament appearance in football (according to the Minnesota State High School League yearbook) in 1982.

The following year, in 1983, the Lakeites beat Norman County West/Climax 27-12 to win the 9-man state championship.

Silver Lake followed that state championship team up with a runner-up finish in 1984, falling to Norman County West 37-20.

The Lakeites then reached the state tournament in 1985, but failed to reach the championship game.

That big, one-year drought ended in 1986, as Silver Lake was back in the state championship game, losing to Argyle 32-7.

Silver Lake was again in the championship game in 1987, beating Verndale 30-14 for its second state title in five years.

Not too bad of a five-year stretch, would you say?

The cherry on the sundae came in 1991, when Silver Lake made its final state tournament appearance as the Lakeites.

The final football season for the Lakeites came in 1993.

The following fall Silver Lake paired with Glencoe to become the Glencoe-Silver Lake Panthers.

While things change, the more they stay the same.

It only took the pairing between Silver Lake and Glencoe six years to recapture that Lakeite magic, as the Panthers made the state tournament in 1996.

Okay, just two state tournament appearances in the 1990s, what was going on?

Well, they must just have been getting all their ducks in a row to dominate the new century, which is just what they are doing.

Starting with the 2000 season, the GSL Panthers have dominated Class 3A football like no other.

In 2000, GSL beat Albany 21-0 to claim the Class 3A state title.

After failing to make it back to state in 2001, the Panthers kicked off a roll of six consecutive state tournament trips since 2002.

One interesting note – that 2001 year just happen to coincide with the six months I worked at the McLeod County Chronicle in Glencoe.

Hmmm, the one year I cover GSL football and they don’t make the state tournament.

It must have been all those deep, down negative thoughts I had growing up fearing Silver Lake football that got them that year.

Once I left Glencoe, the Panthers found their way back to the state football tournament.

In 2002, GSL fell to Plainview/Elgin-Millvile 24-21, but followed that up in 2003 by beating Wright County Conference football rival Delano 21-0 for their second state title of the decade.

The 2004 and 2005 seasons saw the Panthers advance to state, but fail to make the championship game.

Then, last year the Panthers dominated Becker 42-20 for their third state title since 2000.

Which brings us to this year, and another state tournament berth for the state’s number one-ranked Class 3A team – the Panthers.

GSL played Albany Friday in the semifinals, and should they have won, will be playing in the Prep Bowl Saturday, Nov. 24 at 3 p.m. against either Perham or DeLaSalle.

Win or lose this year, the Panthers are on an incredible run, one of historic proportion.

But, going back even further, one has to be a little jealous of the football success the small town of Silver Lake has had since the 1980s.

A little jealous unless you happen to be a current or former football player from a school that took regular beatings at the hands of the Lakeites and now the Panthers.

Alright, we all get it. Silver Lake is good at football, isn’t it about time you fellows down Hwy. 7 start giving some other area schools their time to shine?

It has already been three decades of being good, let’s move on already.