Dave Giles is the historian for the Minnesota Football Coaches Association All-Star Game, an event he also handles the public address duty for.
He lives in Eden Prairie, Minnesota, which serves as the training facility for the Vikings.
But Giles could not stop there. When he became affiliated with the MFCA game in 2005 he became curious about what other states were doing in the way of all-star high school football games. He researched the history of any major all-star series in the country and that includes the Shrine Maple Sugar Bowl, the senior all-star game pitting Vermont against New Hampshire, as well as Vermont’s North-South All-Star Game which just wrapped up its 19th edition at Castleton University.
Newspaper accounts that had the North leading the leading the series 11-8 caught his eye.
He knew that could not be right. He did some research as did South line coach Mike Empey. Their numbers agree that the South leads the series 10-9.
The discrepancy was that the official game program had the North winning the 2015 and 2009 games and, in fact, the South won each of those seasons.
“The thing that jumps out at me is how long some of these games have been played and how important they are to the states,” Giles said.
“Your Shrine Maple Sugar Bowl which has been played since 1954 is right there with those.
“There is one between North and South Carolina that started back in 1937.”
That Shrine Game of the Carolinas is the one that gave birth to our Shrine Maple Sugar Bowl.
Ted Lewis, a businessman from Claremont, New Hampshire, went to the Shrine Game of the Carolinas in 1953 to observe it with the idea of putting down the foundation for the Vermont-New Hampshire game.
He brought his notes back and sat down with people interested in the concept at a Chinese restaurant in Manchester, New Hampshire and in 1954 we had our Shrine Maple Sugar Bowl.
Giles said he only tracks major high school all-star games, ones that are important to the entire state.
California, for example, has several regional games but no longer boasts one with a statewide interest so Giles does not follow those.
He says of all the many games he does track throughout the country, Vermont’s 2010 North-South All-All-Star Game in which the North won 74-48, is still the highest scoring of them all.
“I feel confident in saying that the 122 points scored in that game remains the highest of all the major all-star games,” Giles said.
Rice Memorial’s Christian McCormick led the North to that 74-point explosion by throwing for 349 yards and six touchdowns.
Mickey Heinecken had a brilliant college football coaching career, piloting Middlebury College to a record of 126-96-2 record from 1973 through 2000, but his most important contribution to Vermont football is his role in starting the Vermont Chapter of the National Football Foundation as well as the North-South Game which made its debut in 2001. A game where every varsity football program in Vermont is represented brings the Vermont high school football community together in a special way.
That was evident last Saturday at Dave Wolk Stadium where a sizeable crowd braved frigid temperatures.
The game is important to Vermonters. Oh, and to one very passionate football historian in Minnesota.