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Guardian of the Gridiron

When athletics director Tim Bald compiled his wish list of desirable characteristics for St. Norbert College’s next head football coach, “great recruiter” received top billing. That worked to the strengths of Steve Opgenorth and helped the Green Bay native land his first head-coaching position.

Opgenorth arrives at St. Norbert with a résumé filled with successful recruiting experiences, including the previous two seasons as offensive coordinator and recruiting coordinator at Colby College, an NCAA Division III school in Waterville, Maine.

“It’s our mission to recruit and develop the best people possible to St. Norbert College,” Opgenorth said at his introductory press conference. “I firmly believe the football field is an extension of the classroom. If we can ask each individual in our program to reach their full potential, I believe you’re going to see St. Norbert College and our football program reach new heights. This is truly a special place to call home and play college football.”

“Coach O” succeeds Jim Purtill, who resigned at the end of the 2013 season after 15 campaigns with the Green Knights.

A Winona (Minn.) State University graduate, Opgenorth also brings a strong background of academic excellence to St. Norbert. While serving as the defensive backs coach, special teams coordinator and recruiting coordinator at Albright College from 2007-09, he helped 32 players earn all-academic honors in his duties as the team’s academic coordinator.

“Steve possesses the right mix of enthusiasm, vision and leadership to guide our football program,” Bald told the press conference. “His emphasis on academic and athletic success fits perfectly within the mission of St. Norbert College and Green Knight athletics.”

Opgenorth’s career as a player at Division II Winona State culminated in his selection to the Warriors’ All-Century Team in 2005 as a specialist. He is third in career scoring at the school and first among kickers. He is the school’s career leader in field goals and extra points, and was a three-time all-conference selection.

“The four years that I had as a student-athlete and a college football player were the most positive and influential four years that I’ve had to date,” Opgenorth said. “My number-one-job as the head football coach will be to ensure that our student-athletes have that same experience as a person, as a student and as an athlete.”

March 31, 2014