This week’s game against Black Hills State is the annual Potato Bowl game but it is also the Hall of Fame game. The 2001 University of North Dakota Fighting Sioux Football National Championship team will be returning to campus this weekend. They are being honored by the university as a 2011 inductee in to the UND Hall of Fame. They will serve as honorary game captains prior to the game and they will be introduced at halftime. Game time is 6pm. From what we heard they expect as many as 50-60 players back for the weekend festivities.
The 2001 team is widely regarded as the best team in UND history, not only because they won the school’s only national championship but because of the high level of talent the team had. They finished the season 14-1 after defeating Grand Valley St 17-14 in Florence, AL for the title. Here are some memories of the 2001 season:
- This was the first season ever played in the Alerus Center.
- The single season attendance mark was set that year with a total of 100, 238 over 10 games. Yes that is correct, 10 home games including the playoffs.
- The Sioux defense had 14 sacks in the game vs. New Haven.
- Dominating performance in win over NDSU, 19-7.
- The only blemish on the schedule was a 27-24 OT loss to Nebraska-Omaha in front of a Homecoming crowd of 12,500. Omaha blocked a punt late in the game for a TD to send it to OT.
- Current coaches Josh Kotelnicki and Luke Schleusner were members of the 2001 team. The Head Coach was Dale Lennon and current Head Coach Chris Mussman was the offensive coordinator.
- LB Eric Schmidt set the single season sack record with 10 in 2001.
- All-Conference players: OL – Mike Bryant and Dave Butler, QB Kelby Klosterman, DL Ben Dixon, DB Craig Riendeau, LB Travis O’Neel and Eric Schmidt, K Cameron Peterka, WR-KR Dan Graf
- All-American’s – DL Ben Dixon, DB Craig Riendeau, LB Travis O’Neel and Eric Schmidt, K Cameron Peterka, WR-KR Dan Graf
- The playoff run started with a 42-28 win over Winona State in which Kelby Klosterman has 341 yards passing and 6 TD’s.
- In the quarterfinals they absolutely crushed Pittsburgh State 38-0 at the Alerus Center. The Sioux defense held the veer offense of the Gorilla’s to negative 19 yards rushing and the offense racked up 400+ yards. TE Chad Mustard had one of the more memorable receptions in Sioux history as he broke several tackles on his way to a 62 yard TD. K Cameron Peterka hit a 59 yard FG in the first half.
- In the Semi-Finals, the Sioux beat UC-Davis 14-2 before a raucous Alerus Center crowd. Klosterman hit Graf twice for TD’s to take a lead they would never relinquish. Davis had 7 illegal procedure penalties in the game. The Sioux voluntarily took a safety when they were backed up to give Davis their only points.
- Finally, in the National Championship game the Sioux beat Grand Valley State 17-14 on a Jed Perkerewicz TD late in the game. The big play of the game came when Klosterman hit Luke Schleusner for a 58 yard gain on 4th and 4 where Schleusner broke a tackle and ran down the sideline to get the Sioux into scoring range for Perkerewicz. The Sioux did not turn the ball over in the game but forced two Laker turnovers.
It will be a great weekend to honor an outstanding and ground breaking team that took the Fighting Sioux program to a whole different level.
There’s also a nice video on fightingsioux.com from this summer’s annual football alumni golf outing in Prior Lake, MN which is hosted at The Legends each year by course owner and Sioux Football alum Tip Enebak. The 2001 team had a 10 year reunion and a lot of guys made it back for the social and golf outing and discussed their memories.
We are curious as to what memories you guys have of that very memorable 2001 season.