Written and Edited by Ginny Tostenson Milbank Bulldog head coach Jeremy Tostenson leaves a long legacy of football success in his wake. After 16... Coach Tostenson Retires From Football

Written and Edited by Ginny Tostenson

Milbank Bulldog head coach Jeremy Tostenson leaves a long legacy of football success in his wake. After 16 years as head coach, he has tendered his resignation and will step away from the game he has loved his whole life.

“It’s just time,” he expressed. “I’ve been so fortunate to have gotten my dream job right out of college, but it’s run its course. I have the opportunity now to run cattle with my dad and brothers, and that is the direction my life is heading. To coach football at a high level takes a big time commitment, you cannot do it half way. So now it is time for me to move on.”

Coach T will go down in history as the winningest coach in Milbank football, and the only MHS graduate to have coached the Bulldogs. He accumulated a coaching record of 87-69, surpassing the great Rollie Greeno who had 68 wins during his reign. “It just means I’ve been here a long time and had some great players and coaches around me,” Tostenson said humbly.

He also is the only Milbank football coach to lead his team to a state championship title. The Bulldogs captured the Class 11A State title in 2009. He also led his Dawgs to the championship game in 2005, but came up just short to perennial powerhouse West Central. In addition, Coach T led his teams to three Northeast Conference titles in 2005, 2007 and 2017 and two I-29 Conference titles in 2015 and 2016. He was also named Region 1 Coach of the Year in 2007 by the South Dakota Football Coaches Association.

Tostenson’s days of drawing up the X’s and O’x of the game and tapping his pen began long before he took over as head coach for the Dawgs in 2002. As a young boy, he could be found watching the Washington Redskins and any college football game he could find and drawing up plays on paper. As an eighth grader in Milbank, he knew he wanted to become a coach. “I had built up a great relationship with Coach Jim Hadorn through wrestling,” Coach T explained. “That experience added with watching the 1989 team in their championship game in the dome sparked my interest. During that game, I knew I wanted to coach in the dome.”

Coach T’s career came full circle. He spent his high school days in a Bulldog uniform. He earned a starting spot as a freshman which was unheard of then and now, and was the only four-year starter for Milbank. He earned all-conference and all-state honors as a player and was a member of the Argus Leader Elite 45 team his senior year. He also was a four-year varsity wrestler for the Bulldogs, earned 102 career wins, was a conference champ in 1994, and a state place winner in both 1993 and 1994. “My heart is shaped in an M,” he said. “I have Maroon and Vegas Gold running through my body. Milbank athletics is all I have known.”

Tostenson graduated from MHS in 1994 and earned his K-12 health and physical education degree from Northern State University in the spring of 1999. He tells of how he was hired with the Milbank School District. “It was early August and I did not have a job yet. I called up Mr. (Dave) Bergan and asked if I could substitute. He asked me to come in and visit, so I did. During that visit he offered me a job as a middle school PE teacher and an assistant football coach under Rick Swenson, and that’s how my career started.”

Prior to coming home to Milbank, he was an assistant coach at Aberdeen Central for two years. Once he returned to his old stomping grounds, Coach T was an assistant under Swenson for one year, and under Darren Tipton for two years. “I applied for the head coach job when Tipton did. I am thankful for those two years I had under him. I became more knowledgeable about what it took to be a head coach during that time.”

Coach T learned early on in his career that he needed to be himself and not follow anyone else’s coaching style. “I am not a story or joke teller, not a rah-rah kind of guy. I never had a list of goals for the team or a philosophy to fulfill. My style and rules for the players were simple – be on time, practice is where we take care of business and prepare ourselves, then we play our tails off on Friday nights and good things would happen. Along the way, I hoped the players learned the values of dedication and commitment, the importance of saying please and thank you and to be a good person.”

Tostenson also began a Bulldog tradition numerous years ago that no other high school team does. He guided his team in singing the school song after each game. “I always remember as a freshman in high school having to sing the school song in front of the entire student body. I learned quickly that that is who we are – we are Milbank Bulldogs. That was our school song, that was who we played for. We played for MHS, so you better know the school song and be proud of it.”

Tostenson’s career has many highlights, including the two dome appearances. However, the record that stands out the most to him is being undefeated in their home playoff games. “I am proud of that, we were not going to be beat at AB Campbell Stadium. It also meant that we got better throughout the season and were playing good football at the end of the year. That means the most to me.”

Anyone who knows Coach T knows he is an early riser. He admits he will miss the early morning preparations during the football season. “I’ll miss the 4:30 am on Sunday morning time watching film and putting in the game plan. I’m more of a practice coach than game coach. I’ve always enjoyed preparations and practices the most more than Friday nights. I felt more like puking and had “victory pains” on Friday nights – I just wanted to see the guys do well and experience the memories and successes that I had as a player.”

Tostenson’s career was also highlighted by having the privilege of coaching side by side with great individuals. Coach Bob Huber was an assistant coach when Tostenson was a freshman. He brought “Hubie” back for a few years where he was a part of the 2005 staff. He also feels fortunate to have coached with three of his former players – Travis Lester, Cory Richardt and Jeffrey Trapp.

Tostenson is especially proud and honored to have coached with his long-time high school buddy, Scott Wiese. “We coached together for 14 of my 16 years. We knew each other inside and out, especially since in high school he was the quarterback and I was the center. So having him along for the ride was a lot of fun with many memories I will always cherish.”

He also has enjoyed time spent with many other coaches along the way. “I will miss the camaraderie among the coaches that I have worked with the most.” Coach T is also thankful for the relationships that have been built through Big Stone Therapies and Wade Van Dover. “I feel very fortunate to have had Wade taking care of our players. He has been a Godsend to all of Milbank athletics.”

There are countless stories of great games, players and teams, memories to share, debates to be had about philosophy and plays used over the years, but those will be left to those who were privileged to be part of Bulldog football under Tostenson’s helm. For now, Coach T will grace the history books and relish in the successes of the Milbank Bulldogs. “My stepping away does not need to be about my success, but the accomplishments of Milbank football the past 16 years and all the players who made it happen,” he expressed. “I’m not going anywhere. I look forward to continuing my teaching duties and am excited to continue coaching wrestling. The Milbank School District is a special place, and I’m grateful to be a part of it.”


Staff Writer

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