MOORHEAD -- Dale Stoll's heart may have been pounding for the Staples-Motley Cardinals but his allegiance was with the Becker Bulldogs.
Stoll played for Coach Lynn Peterson on the Cardinals' first state tournament team 20 years ago when they went 25-1, compiling the best record in the state.
In the quarterfinals of the Class AA boys' basketball state tournament Tuesday at Concordia College, Stoll was torn because his son, Josh, played for the Becker Bulldogs against S-M.
"I have always had a soft spot for Staples," Dale Stoll said. "I graduated from there in 1981, but I'm thinking now I'm true-blue Becker, I really am. My son is the most important thing to me, all my kids are. I'm behind them 100 percent."
The 37-year-old Stoll is in his 14th year as a police officer in Fargo, N.D. Two years before that he was an officer in the Wadena County Sheriff's department.
"The town has adopted me," Stoll said of Becker. "I'm an outstate dad. I live in Fargo so I do a lot of commuting. I missed only one football game. I do a lot of driving back and forth. The town has taken me under their wing as an adopted Becker Bulldog."
The Cardinals' only loss in Stoll's senior season was to Ruthton in the small-school division of the old two-class tournament. They went on to beat Albany and Warren to capture the consolation championship.
"We accomplished a lot," Stoll said. "We didn't win state, but to finish 25-1, the best record in the state that year in Class A or AA, that's something to be proud of."
Since Stoll graduated the Cardinals have been to 10 more state tournaments. Going to state has become a S-M tradition but the first trip will always be special for Stoll and the community.
"Actually, the building of it started about midway through that season," Stoll recalled. "We were undefeated. The wrestling team always got the crowds in Staples. When Don Dravis was the head coach they were always going to state.
"The crowds started building. By the time we rolled to 15-0 or 16-0 we had jam-packed houses every game, including on the road. When it came around to districts and regions, for regions the crowds were absolutely huge. It was probably one of the highlights of my life, besides my kids being born."
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