has a storied athletic history with 145 state championships. In 2005 Sports Illustrated even named the school’s athletic program the best in Minnesota and eighth best in the nation—the result of a survey conducted of some 30,000 U.S. high schools.
The problem, several former Richfield Spartans varsity football players recently claimed, is that at least one of Edina High School’s claims to athletic glory doesn’t actually belong to the Hornets.
On a billboard at Edina’s football field a sign lists 1987 as one of numerous years the Hornets won a conference football championship. But former football players, along with , the school’s current athletic director and head football coach, say that 1987 conference championship actually belongs to the Spartans.
“Herling and I had a chuckle about that,” said Todd Olson, referring to Derrick Herling, the quarterback of Richfield’s 1987 team, after news of Edina’s claim began circulating between former Spartans through their Facebook pages.
Olson, who was Edina’s head football coach from 1995-2005, said Herling was one of several former players he’s spoken to about the error. He said the listed conference championship is almost certainly the result of a mere misprint.
Edina and Richfield were both members of the eight-school Lake Blue athletic conference in 1987; players and Olson both said that Richfield went 8-0 in conference play and 12-1 overall, posting their only loss in a state semifinal tournament game.
Olson was in his first year of coaching with the Spartans as an assistant in 1987, and said he remembers the championship clearly. After checking athletic records listed in a Richfield High School yearbook from 1987, he confirmed that the Spartans went 8-0 in conference play that year, beating the Hornets 21-3 in the fifth game of the season.
Edina Athletic Director John Soma informed Patch in an e-mail that his office was hearing about the mistaken championship claim for the first time.
“Assuming we can verify it we would make the necessary changes to our sign,” he wrote.
Lee Herman, who played tight end on the 1987 team and currently teaches at Richfield’s , said he remembers the 1987 championship season clearly and has communicated with other former teammates about the Hornets’ claim.
Cautioning that he and other players didn’t want it to seem like they were whining, they nonetheless would like to see the error corrected.
“[Edina has] a very proud athletic tradition, maybe the best in the state,” Herman said. “But that [conference championship] was a very proud part of our tradition and our history in football, and they were such a big rival for us—to have that piece claimed, we maybe just want a correction.”
“They’ve got many well-earned trophies in their case," he added. "We would just like ours."
Photos of the Spartans' trophy case containing the conference trophy and plaque have been included above.
If you have photos from the 1987 Spartans football season, add them to this article though the "Upload Photos and Video" option above.