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Minnesota Football: #TBT The Mpls. North High School Connection

On Wednesday Tyler Johnson from Minneapolis North High School became the most recent Polar to become a Gopher football player. When Johnson steps onto the field next season he may become the first Polar to play for the Gophers in 65 years.

Mpls North vs Roosevelt at North High, 1925.
Mpls North vs Roosevelt at North High, 1925.

Having grown up in Minneapolis my notion of Minneapolis North High School is that its a tough school that had a great basketball program. My dad used to take me to North to see basketball games. But a 120 year old high school has a lot more history than just my fond memories and humble bragging about watching Khalid El-Amin.

Things have always been tough in north Minneapolis. The school has burned down, and in 1917 the football team cancelled its season because of a smallpox epidemic. In the 1930s and 1940s north Minneapolis was predominantly a Jewish neighborhood and so was the football team, making games against certain schools (Roosevelt most prominently) a gridiron contest of Jew vs Gentile. No matter the obstacle North High fielded some great football teams and have sent at least three players onto the U of M. 

North High School Varsity Football Team Photo, 1949. Courtesy of Upper Midwest Jewish Archives.

  • Wallace Hamilton North Class of 1910. Wallace went on from captaining the Polars in 1910 to scoring the winning touchdown against Wisconsin in 1914.
  • Sid Gillman North Class of 1929. Sike, Gillman played for Ohio State, but I'm giving him a shoutout anyway. He would make a name for himself later on as a coach, and is credited with inventing the practice of studying game film.
  • Bob Bjorklund North Class of 1936. Bjorklund played center during the glory days of Gopher football, captaining Bernie Bierman's 1940 National Championship team.
  • Wayne Robinson North Class of 1948. Wayne may be the most recent North Polar to play football for the University of Minnesota. He was drafted by the Eagles in 1952.