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Albert Lea hires new football coach

The Albert Lea High School athletics office announced the hiring of Paul Dunn as the new head coach of the Albert Lea varsity football program, pending board approval. 

Dunn comes in with 18 years of head coaching experience in Springfield, where he compiled a career record of 125-72. He coached the Springfield Tigers to four state tournament runs, which included a total of 21 games and a Class A state championship in 2005. 

Dunn said he learned about the job opening from some of the staff at the high school. He said a lot of his family grew up in the Albert Lea area, and he felt it was the right time to make the move. His grandfather homesteaded in Clarks Grove in 1934. According to Dunn, he basically grew up on that farm during the weekends and summers. Both of his parents also graduated from Albert Lea High School. He said moving and taking the job in Albert Lea was a “perfect fit scenario.” Dunn also said the vibe he got from the community was another big reason why he decided to make the move.

“Obviously the community has invested a lot of time, energy and resources into creating a great experience for the student athletes,” Dunn said. “Hopefully we can give that back with our effort on the field and our approach to the community. I’m just really excited for the opportunity.”

While with the Springfield Tigers, Dunn was named the Southern Minnesota Conference Coach of the Year three times and was the Minnesota Football Coaches Association Coach of the Year in 2005. Dunn has also coached in the MFCA All-Star game and was president of the MFCA. 

Dunn described his coaching style as “old school” in the sense that the basis of the program is going to have an emphasis on the fundamentals of the game. He was also adamant about the team aspect and how much more powerful a group can be when they play as a team. 

As for gameplan, Dunn said he anticipates playing some form of the option. He said he grew up with the wishbone formation and the “Nebraska option” and plans to implement those into his game. He also wants to incorporate the run pass option and some of the new style formations as well. 

The Tigers have won two games in each of the past two seasons, but have shown significant signs of improvement and played tight in many of the games they lost. Dunn talked about how he plans to continue the Tigers forward momentum as well as build the program. 

“It starts with how you approach the little things everyday,” Dunn said. “Building the relationships among teammates, coaches and the community, and between student athletes and their teachers. Just doing the right things the right way.”

He said his motto in Springfield was “Tiger Pride” after everything the team did. According to Dunn, the motto meant doing the right thing all the time, even when nobody is looking. He said it gets to the core and character of the student athletes he wants his players to be. 

Albert Lea Activities Director Paul Durbahn said Dunn brings a level of experience to the position that not a lot of other people can match. 

He’s up for the challenge, highly motivated, and we think he’s the right fit for the job,” Durbahn said. “He’s a guy that I believe our community can rally around, and he’ll also pour his heart into the community.”

Dunn also found success coaching others sports as he spent time coaching softball in Springfield and led the team to a state championship in the 2005-06 season. 

Dunn graduated high school in St. Ansgar and played on an undefeated team his senior year. He went on to play college football for Augustana College in Rock Island, Illinois, where he played on three undefeated national championship teams. 

Dunn replaces Corey Black, who resigned effective April 15. Black was head coach of the Tigers for four years and an assistant for two years prior. Black totaled a 6-31 record as head coach.

Dunn will also be teaching social studies in the district starting in the fall. He has two daughters — one lives and works in Chicago and one is entering her sophomore year at the University of Minnesota. He said his entire family is excited for him to get a new opportunity, and he is excited to get started. 

Dunn thanked the community for investing so much in their student athletes and in a great new facility. 

“Thank you for investing in your kids,” Dunn said. “You have a beautiful high school, athletic facilities and fine arts facilities. I’ve been through them and I’m thoroughly impressed. I view it as my job to now use that as an educational tool to the kids in the community. The community has given me a great tool to work with and hopefully we can take that and bring Tiger pride throughout the community and run a program that everyone can be proud of.”


About Tyler Julson

Tyler Julson covers sports for the Albert Lea Tribune.

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