JAY DAVIS: Bad loss in first game might be good omen

Talking football with first-year football coach Dan Merkel, he wondered aloud if he was the first Tiger coach to ever lose his first game by 50 points.
Well, Danny, you are not the first, and if it is any consolation, losing your first game by 50 bodes well for the rest of your career.
Bert Dent took over the Tigers in 1949 and promptly lost a 56-6 game to Mandan, N.D.  After that opening night, Dent went on to win 71 games, the second most wins in Mobridge football history behind the 90 wins Fran Herman chalked up from 1977 to 1989.
Merkel is the 17th coach in Tiger football history. Believe it or not, he is the fifth coach to open his career against the Winner Warriors. Lefty Engebritson was the first when he took the reins from Dent in 1964. Lefty’s Tigers beat Winner 26-20. Larry Hanks coached just one year for the Tigers. He opened the 1966 season with a 7-0 loss to the Warriors. When Rob Hofer took over for one year when Herman retired, he dropped a 20-7 game to Winner on opening night. The following year, Troy Stenberg took over the program. Stenberg, who is now the Mobridge-Pollock athletic director, coached 13 years and won 55 games. He started his career with an 8-0 loss to the Warriors.
When my football coach, John Salsziedler, assumed command of the Tigers in 1967, he lost a 28-0 game to Gregory in his first outing. Salsziedler went on to coach the Tigers to 53 wins in 10 seasons, including an 8-1 season my senior year in 1976.
Here is one more omen that bodes well for Merkel in the future. When Mike Szczur took the Tigers to battle for his first game in 2004, the Tigers got whipped 44-0 by Groton and then went on to suffer an 0-8 campaign. Six years later, Szczur led the Tigers to the state championship game. Merkel remembers that game and season quite well as he was a member of the coaching staff.
Here is a complete list of Tiger football coaches, their first game, and the outcome: 1919, Fred “Bat” Nelson tied 0-0 with Ipswich; 1925, A.E. Anderson beat McLaughlin 39-0; 1928, Christ Johnston lost to Ashley, N.D., 13-9; 1932, L.D. Patten beat Faith 13-2; 1936, C.J. Hamman beat Timber Lake 14-0; 1942, Glen Wright beat Lemmon 19-0; 1948, John Montgomery beat Highmore 25-0; 1949, Bert Dent lost to Mandan 56-6; 1964, Lefty Engebritson beat Winner 26-20; 1966, Larry Hanks lost to Winner 7-0; 1967, John Salsziedler lost to Gregory 28-0; 1977, Fran Herman beat Lemmon 36-0; 1990, Rob Hofer lost to Winner 20-7; 1991, Troy Stenberg lost to Winner 8-0; 2004, Mike Szcur lost to Groton 44-0; 2012, Nathan Lamb beat Linton-HMB 18-15; 2015, Dan Merkel lost to Winner 50-0.