Coaches, fans, former players share favorite memories of 75 years of football at Beell Stadium
Beell Stadium opened Sept. 26, 1941
By Paul Lecker
MARSHFIELD — The 2015 season marks the 75th season of football of Beell Stadium, located on the campus of Marshfield Middle School.
The facility’s construction was completed in 1941, and the stadium was dedicated on Sept. 26, 1941. On Nov. 12, 1941, the Marshfield Board of Education officially adopted the name Beell Stadium in memory of fallen Marshfield police officer Fred Beell, who was killed in the line of duty in 1933.
Today a rock and memorial plaque greet visitors on the north end of the stadium and remind the community and players of the dedication and sacrifice Beell gave.
Since that day, countless players and coaches have roamed the field for the Marshfield High School, Columbus Catholic High School, and now Spencer/Columbus co-op football teams.
Marshfield won the first game played at Beell, 14-7, against rival Wisconsin Rapids.
According to reports in the Marshfield News-Herald in the Sept. 27, 1941, edition, the Tigers’ Lawrence Swanson scored the first touchdown ever at the stadium, and Donald “Barney” Rhyner had the game-winning score in the third quarter for Marshfield under the direction of head coach Mark Almil. The win gave the Tigers a 2-0 record, and they went on to finish 3-3-1 that season.
The crowd that night was estimated to be between 2,500 and 2,800 spectators, who witnessed an introduction of the team members from City Attorney and President of the Marshfield Junior Chamber of Commerce Fred Rhyner; the presentation of the game ball to officials by Sam Winch, an 1899 MHS graduate and oldest living member of the “M” club; and speech from State Senator M.R. Laird, who hailed that the stadium was “a symbol of the community’s interest in physical education.”
Former players, coaches, and residents have shared some of their favorite memories from the past 75 years of high school football at Beell Stadium.
“I remember playing against Hudson on Beell back in 2003 in a tough playoff game. I remember my teammates and I leaving everything we had on the field in order to win.
“I remember in this same game, one of the monster Hudson lineman (Kraig Urbik), who is now in the NFL, trap blocking me. I had to come out of the game due to a helmet clip being broken. I told Len Luedtke Jr. I believed I had just been run over by a truck.
“So many great memories from the Beell with my teammates, coaching staff, and I. We still tell stories and laugh every time we see one another about our football glory days.” — Eric Rosandich
“Greatest memory in Beell Stadium was when Beell Stadium hosted its first and only state championship game in 1980. The Columbus Dons under the direction of legendary coach Walt Kroll took on the Waukesha Catholic Memorial Crusaders in the WISAA Class A state championship game. It was a real battle of quality teams, and at the end of regulation the score was 12-12. The Dons got the ball first in OT and scored a touchdown. The Crusaders then had their chance, but on the final play of the game the Dons intercepted a pass in the end zone to claim the state title 19-12.” — Joe Baierl
“Beell Stadium is a special place for most Marshfield High School football players. The home of the Tigers is a unique stadium because the fans are so close to the field and feel like part of the action.
“Twenty years ago the 1995 Tigers team went 7-2 after being 1-8 the year before. My fondest memory playing at Beell was coming from behind to beat Rhinelander 18-14 during our homecoming game. It was the start of great seasons and awesome games to come.
“Thank you to all players, coaches, parents, and Tiger fans for making Beell special.” — Len Luedtke Jr., former Marshfield High School player and current assistant coach
“It was Friday, Sept. 1, 1978. I was a junior at MHS, and it would be my first start at quarterback for the Tigers. The opponent was one-time Wisconsin Valley Conference foe Shawano High School.
“We came out aggressively on offense, and I completed 7 of 11 passes for 72 yards and a touchdown in the first half. It was a great start to my high school career. Our defense controlled the tempo the rest of the way, and Marshfield won 13-0.
“It was my first and favorite of many memories playing at Beell, but that wasn’t the only thing about this particular game that made it memorable. You see, the first-year head football coach for Shawano that night was none other than Len Luedtke Sr.” — Kurt Boson, MHS quarterback, 1978-79
“On Oct. 5, 2012, the Spencer/Columbus football team was set to take the field versus Osseo-Fairchild for the annual Columbus homecoming game at Beell Stadium. This has been a great tradition of our program and something we look forward to every year.
“However, this night had a special meaning. On Dec. 25, 2011, Army Staff Sgt. Joseph J. Altmann lost his life while serving his country in Afghanistan. Altmann was a senior on the first team in the Spencer/Columbus co-op history in 2002. We retired his number (33) and presented it to his parents at midfield before the game. We also wore the No. 33 on the back of our helmets.
“There was not a dry eye as we listened to one of the most memorable performances of ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’ any of us had ever heard. That song will never be the same after that evening.
“The Rockets, playing with great inspiration, went on to win the game 42-19 and clinch a playoff berth. It was, by far, the most memorable game at Beell Stadium in the S/C co-op history.” — Jason Gorst, Spencer/Columbus head football coach
“My top memory of Beell Stadium was the 1997 WIAA playoff game versus D.C. Everest. Marshfield had just taken the lead on a Chad Fredrick run with about 2 ½ minutes left in the game only to see Everest throw a 70-yard option pass to retake the lead with 2 minutes left.
“We got the ball back with less than two minutes on the clock and drove 85 yards and scored on a Brad Varsho-to-Travis Yokomus pass in the corner of the end zone to score the upset victory. The win propelled us to a last-second win at Rapids the next week, again on a Varsho-to-Yokomus pass with under a minute to play. The season ended with our first state championship with our victory over Oak Creek.” — Paul Foegen, former Marshfield assistant coach
“My memories of historic Beell Stadium only go back to 1999 when I first moved here to become sports editor at the newspaper. During those past 16 years, however, I have seen some of the greatest teams and players to ever play football at Marshfield High School. It’s hard to remember everything that has happened in all of those games I have covered since for the newspaper and now MarshfieldAreaSports.com, but I would say one of my favorite’s was the homecoming game in September 2012.
“Marshfield was flying high at 4-0 and was taking on Oshkosh West. The Tigers had four turnovers in the first half and trailed 10-0 late before Riley Gebelein scored on a 5-yard touchdown run with 4 minutes left, and after the Tigers stopped West, Daulton Varsho ran a punt back 60 yards for a touchdown to give Marshfield the lead. Varsho then intercepted a pass in the final minute to put away the win. Marshfield would go on to tie for its first VFA South Division title and make it all the way to the WIAA Division 2 semifinals that season.” — Paul Lecker, publisher, MarshfieldAreaSports.com