The growth and struggles of Albert Lea High School football

Published 8:54 pm Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Looking Back: High school football by Linda Evenson


The first game played by an Albert Lea High School football team was in 1897. The early years saw growth and struggles for the squads. The 1918 football season came to a sudden halt when the flu epidemic canceled the entire season. Only 14 players turned out for the 1919 season. In November 1923, the team had a frightening experience while traveling to Austin for a game. A spindle on the right front wheel broke, throwing the bus on its side and into the ditch. None of the players were injured. Passing cars took them on to Austin. The cherry and blue squad played a good game but lost to Austin.

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In 1934, the Albert Lea High School football team went undefeated (six wins, two ties) and won the Big Eight championship. Coach Rene Wambach’s teams had won the title twice in three years. The following year, the Tigers squad won six of eight games, finishing third in the title race.

Albert Lea’s “grid machine” suffered a slump in the early 1940s, followed by winning seasons for the 1942, 1943 and 1944 football squads.