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A lifetime of memories and friendships: 1948 football Raiders celebrate their dream season and each other

They were quite the football team by any standard.

The 1948 Hastings Raider football team coached by Lin Hildebrandt was undefeated and ranked No. 2 in the state at the end of the season.

They were good, supported by the community and team members had respect and admiration for each other.

That admiration is still there 65 years later.

What they did as a team that year are memories. But what came from that relationship remains to this day as demonstrated last week as 11 members of that team got together at The Bierstube to visit. It seemed an appropriate location as Todd Field provides the backdrop to the restaurant.

“This is an opportunity for us to visit with each other,” said Jim Holmes. Usually, they tried to get together every five years. Several see each other more often as they live in the Hastings area.

Bob McNamara, a junior that year, said no one was expecting an undefeated season, let alone by the scores of the games — the Raiders were not scored upon until the last game.

But he was quick to note that it was not much the offense that sparked the team’s success.

“Our defense was the key,” he said. “We came together; we had the desire.”

Alton Johnson was a sophomore on the team.

“We felt comfortable together,” he said. “Who’d have thought we’d score 300 points in one year.”

Ron Zastrow remembers Hildebrandt running “dummy drills over and over, the repetition of it. I think he only had three offensive plays,” he said.

As teams laughed about playing together, they had a stronger connection, said Kermit Klefsaas. He pointed to the friendships formed.

“We had a respect for each other and were we friends then and now,” he said.

“All of us came together,” said McNamara “There were no egos; we all had a job to do. Our punter punted once all season.”

Johnson remembers that the Raiders played Anoka in the last game of the season in Anoka on Halloween night.

“That was tough,” said Johnson.

But the Raiders prevailed, even after Anoka scored a touchdown, the first points against the Hastings team all season.

The Hastings community, considerably smaller in 1948, tuned out for each home game and enthusiastically supported the team. The high school was smaller — there were about 400 students in the whole school.

Again there was pride for and among the team, said Holmes. “We were proud of each other for the accomplishments,” he said.

“We had values in our hearts,” said Johnson. “There was a camaraderie that we felt.”

McNamara recalled that the following year — 1949 — was a pretty fair year for the Raiders as well. They finished with a 6-2 record.

But it is obvious that while they cherish the memories from that football season, the year held a higher reward.

As they assembled for photos, one outside, they continued visiting, laughing —- just like friends do.