ALFARATA - For a group of men who played football together at the University of South Dakota in the late 1960s, nothing can break the bond, not even 40 years and thousands of miles.
Former Chief Logan High School standout George Bohn feels honored to be a part of those fabled teams. Over the years through good times and bad, Bohn, a retired educator, has kept in touch with former teammates, including fellow Chief Logan grad Jim Foster.
A recent trip to his old stomping grounds was a dream come true to get to see them again. Members of the 1968 South Dakota football team reunited for enshrinement into the school's athletic Hall of Fame.
Chief Logan graduate George Bohn, center, is flanked by former South Dakota teammates Joe Glenn, left, who is the college’s football coach today, and Jim Foster, also a former Mingo.
"Everybody looked the same," Bohn says of seeing his former teammates at the September reunion. "Maybe they were a little older, a little grayer and a little heavier, but it was just like the old days. We have a bond that can never be broken."
The 1968 squad went 9-1, losing only to rival and eventual national champion North Dakota State, and was the first football team from the school to be ranked nationally in its division, a predecessor to today's Football Championship Subdivision (FCS).
The Coyotes averaged 30 points per game and allowed just 17 points. The team also broke numerous individual and school records.
However, the most impressive statistic was that 44 of the 48 players on the squad came from all over the country to attend the reunion ceremony.
"The university officials were astonished at the representation of our team from 44 years ago, coming from every part of the nation," says Bohn, a middle linebacker and nose guard. "Our coach (Joe Salem) summed it up best by saying this team was so successful, because they were close and respected one another and played as a family unit. Jim and I were very humbled and proud at this very touching and emotional ceremony."
Foster was the quarterback on the 1968 Hall of Fame team and also is a retired educator.
Current South Dakota head coach Joe Glenn was another member of the 1968 Hall of Fame team. He has coached three national championship teams, winning consecutive titles at Northern Arizona and another at Montana.
Bohn and his former teammates dined with this year's squad during a special meal on Friday, and then were honored at halftime of the Coyotes' game with Colgate.
The program certainly has grown by leaps and bounds since Bohn graduated. South Dakota played in a stadium with metal bleachers, which was comparable to the size of Mitchell Field in Lewistown. Now, the Coyotes play in the 10,000-seat DakotaDome and compete at the Division I FCS level.
"The university has really expanded beyond my belief," Bohn says. "There's a new student union where our old practice field was."
Players also exchanged addresses, phone numbers and e-mail addresses to help stay in touch. Plans are already in the works for a the next five-year reunion.
"I don't know what percentage of college athletes are enshrined in their schools' hall of fames, but it's a great honor and it's very humbling and I'm proud to be a part of it," Bohn says.