BECKER -- The Becker Bulldogs are in the midst of defending their state title and are led by Dwight Lundeen, who's the only head football coach in the program's 46-year history.

Lundeen, a graduate of St. Cloud State University, started the football program at Becker in 1970.

"When we started out, it was a difficult journey," Lundeen says. "That was OK, you learn to take the good and the bad but we had 17 players in grades 7-12 in one of our first [years], and that was hard to put 11 competitive players on the field."

Despite the humble beginnings, Lundeen has gradually built Becker into a football powerhouse, winning two state championships and winning 339 games -- the third most coaching wins in state history.

"There's no goals that I've set that I have to win 400 games or [some number] of state championships," Lundeen says. "If your goal is just to win games and that's it, you won't last very long in this business."

"My purpose is a lot bigger than that -- to impact young men to become good citizens and see them grow."

Lundeen makes it a point to keep in touch with his former players, taking trips on Saturdays during football season to see his former players' college games. His current players attribute their success to the calming atmosphere Lundeen and his coaching staff create on and off the field.

"How you treat people is how you build a program," Lundeen says. "I want 3:00-5:00 p.m. to be the best time of the day for every kid."

"We all have issues in life...but we can come together, kind of forget about that and have a great time playing playing this wonderful game of football.

Becker will play Orono on Saturday in a match up of two undefeated teams for the section championship. Kickoff is at 7:00 p.m. at Orono High School.


Photo by Isaac Schweer, WJON