Go Vikings!

As important as Football is in Cook County at the present time, it is hard to visualize its humble beginning.

In September 1949, it was announced that for the first time in history Football would be a sport at Grand Marais High School! Up to this time only basketball was an inter school sport. And basketball was big! Only two years before the high school had won the district championship with Minnesota’s tallest player, 6’6” Ray Sjoberg Junior!

The team fielded was a 6 man team. Coach was J. Paul Johnson assisted by Leo Sandgren. Student manager of the team was John Lindell. Nineteen young men went out; George Stoltz, Joe Hussey, George Flavell, Chuck McElevey, John Henry Eliasen, Holly Nelson, Roger “Rock-o” Larsen, Jim Walker, Alex Sjoberg, Bertil Horseng and Ellwood Loh. Those listed as “working” for position included Roger Malner, John Nylund, Roger Cook, Jack Hussey, Jim Blackwell, Warner Olson, Dick Lund, and Dick Berglund.

Practice was held on the gravel playground just above the "old school", now the site of the Harbor View Apartments. Uniforms were second hand, the team played in tennis shoes. At Meadowlands the three pair of well-used 6 man shoes were "borrowed" and given to Eliasen, Stoltz, and McElevey. George Flavell, running back, had the team's only pair of shoes.

The first game was held at Meadowlands. A small school with only 20 boys in high school, 19 of them on the football team, it was no match for the Vikings who won 33-0. On the other hand, the newspaper referred to the fact that, for the most part, the new Vikings had never even seen a football game! Henry Eliasen scored the first goal. Play was on a mud field; even the Vikings bus had gotten stuck on the way. The only injury was to Viking cheerleader, Janet Nelson, who sustained several chipped teeth and a bloody nose when her megaphone was struck, presumably by a play.

The second game, at Cromwell, was similar with the Vikings wining 58-16. In 6-man football if a team is 45 points ahead, the game ends. By half time the score was 46-8 and the Vikings were told not to score so they could play the entire game!

Only two games were scheduled that year, both away, and both within a two week period. By 1950 a full eleven man team was fielded and football became an established sport at GMHS!

1949 Football Team
1949 Football Team
For more articles on Cook County History, visit the archives