'It goes everywhere with us': Dassel-Cokato football team honors late teammate during state tournament run

The Dassel-Cokato football team advanced to their first state tournament final in decades. Credit: Hayley Massingham

The Dassel-Cokato High School football team defeated Annandale 24-14 Saturday at U.S. Bank Stadium, advancing to their first state tournament final in decades.

It was an historic day, as it's been 46 years since Dassel-Cokato High School made the Minnesota state football championship tournament. Their goal now is to add more hardware to the trophy case. They’re hoping to make history, but also do it in honor of a teammate, who passed away. Jacob MacDonald, who wore no. 34, died a few years ago in a peanut allergy episode. 

Ever since, the team had carried his jersey to each game.

“It goes everywhere with us,” said Jackson Martin, a Dassel-Cokato High School football captain. “Just keep him as close to the team as we can - how close we know he is.”

The No. 34 jersey hangs at U.S. Bank Stadium Saturday. Credit: Hayley Massingham  (Hayley Massingham)

8-year-old Tyson Halverson is still pumped up from watching this weekend's game. HIs father, Marcus Halverson, was equally excited. 

"Win or lose, we are super proud of these kids," Marcus said. 

The Halvorson family never misses a game. It's bittersweet for them as their son, MacDonald, would have been a senior this year wearing number 34. 

"For our family, it's looking out on to the filed and not seeing him there that's tough," said Bonni Halverson. "But we wouldn't want it any other way. We're really happy for them." 

MacDonald died two years ago of a severe reaction to a peanut allergy after he ate a cookie at a friend's house. The loss hit the team and the community hard. 

"He means a lot to our team and has served as motivation, but we also feel lucky to be here," said Coach Ryan Weinandt. "Lucky to have this experience and try to honor him with how we play." 

Every game, the players display MacDonald's jersey to make sure he is watching over them. MacDonald's family feels their son's spirit is guiding the team on this championship run. 

Tournament Schedule:

Nov. 29
10 am 1A: BOLD vs Blooming Prairie
1 pm 2A: Mpls North vs Caledonia
4 pm 4A: SMB vs Rocori
7 pm 6A: Champlin Park vs Wayzata

Nov. 30
10 am 9-Man: Hancock vs Mountain Lake
1 pm 3A: Dassel-Cokato vs Pierz 
4 pm 5A: Chaska vs St. Thomas Academy