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Mahlen hits 400 wins!First high school football coach to achieve this honor

by Trinity Gruenberg

Verndale Pirates Football Coach Mike Mahlen has received many accolades in his 51 years of coaching. He is the first high school football coach in the state to attain 400 wins. The milestone was made on October 16 when the Verndale Pirates played the Rothsay Tigers and won 44-6.

“It feels good. I didn’t get into coaching to set records or see how many wins I could get,” said Mahlen. “I’m appreciative I can coach this many years and be able to reach that.”

His first game as a coach was in 1969 against Clarissa in eleven man. The score was zero to zero.

“Neither team was able to cross the 30 yard line. I was sort of wondering what I was getting myself into there,” recalled Mahlen. “Things got better after that.”

His first 16 years of coaching for Verndale they played eleven man and are now nine man. They were also a part of the Pheasant Conference until some district changes were made, which he wasn’t a fan of.

For Mahlen, whether it was the first win or the 400th win, it doesn’t feel any different.

“We approached that game (On October 16) like any other game,” he said.

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