By John Lauritsen

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The State High School football semi-finals got underway at the Metrodome Thursday. As many of you know, this will be the last year the state tournament will be played at the Dome.

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In fact, starting next year, the state semi-finals and the Prep Bowl will be held at TCF Bank Stadium until the new Vikings stadium opens in 2016.

For Paul and Ben Beuning, the State Tournament here at the Dome has come full circle.

Paul played in the Dome’s first-ever Prep Bowl.

Now, in its last year, his son Ben is making his first trip to the Metrodome.

The year was 1982 and the Metrodome itself was a rookie and something to be admired. It was also the first year Belgrade High School made it to the state semi-finals. And for a minute, the Dome itself was the reward.

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“It was incredible. The size of the building and we were just small town boys coming in. A lot of the guys were like, ‘whoa, this is crazy you know,'” Paul said.

Paul was a halfback and cornerback on that team. Belgrade lost a heart-breaker to Truman in the Class C state finals on a last minute field goal. Now, in the Metrodome’s final year, Paul’s son Ben has a shot at family redemption.

“Oh yeah, it’s going to be fun,” Ben said.

Ben is a senior fullback and linebacker for New London-Spicer. His Wildcats play Rochester Lourdes in the state semi-finals on Saturday. As the team and town get ready, Ben is getting a history lesson from his dad.

Ben will soon experience what Paul did 31 years ago. But Ben is also hoping to experience something his dad didn’t- a state championship.

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“I don’t think we’ll realize how awesome it is until we are a little bit older. Being one of the last teams to play in the Dome, it’s a long state history. It’s awesome and surreal,” Ben said.

John Lauritsen