PERHAM, Minn. - Ron Berns has been taking stats for the Perham High School football team since he was a sophomore at Perham. That was 1977.
Berns went to college for three years, coming back each weekend from the University of Minnesota-Morris for one year and Moorhead State (now Minnesota State Moorhead) for two years for Perham football games. He wasn't the main stat guy during his college years, but he helped. He's been the main guy ever since he decided to move back to Perham in 1982.
The 57-year-old, who works in the IT department at KLN Family Brands in Perham, had a lot of stats to write down in last Friday's game between Minnesota Class 4A's No. 4-ranked Detroit Lakes and Class 3A's No. 8-ranked Perham. The teams combined for 37 points before either team punted and 58 points in the first half. In the second half, the teams combined for eight points with Detroit Lakes winning 36-30.
"It was one of those games as a coach you love being a part of, but you hate being on that end of it," Perham coach Kyle Knutson said. "We know we could've got them, but we made some silly mistakes. Both sides played really hard."
Berns hasn't made every single football game, but most of the Perham football games since 1977 have stats because of Berns and the $10 he gets per game. It began with former Perham football coach Bob Wilkowski not really wanting to keep stats, so he handed the book to Berns. He took it from there.
"If they wouldn't pay me, I wouldn't care. I would still do it if the coaches wanted me there," Berns said. "Now that I've been doing this a few years I'm starting to see the sons of guys who were playing when I first started doing it and even some grandkids. It's just cool. I'm a sports history guy. I love looking at old baseball box scores. I like having history recorded, so let's record it correctly."
There was plenty of history to record last Friday. Perham broke school records for passes attempted (60), passes completed (37), passing yards (486) and total offensive plays (88). The 60 passes attempted were the most since Perham threw 49 times against Barnesville on Oct. 15, 1975. Perham quarterback Jenson Beachy broke school records with 59 passing attempts, 36 completed passes, 456 passing yards, 74 offensive plays and 496 total yards. Ty Moser and Zach Peterson both broke the school record with 11 catches and Peterson's 215 yards receiving were also a school record.
On game nights, Berns will put the numbers in a database and send the stats to Knutson at around midnight or 1 a.m. Knutson was awake to see the numbers last week.
"I was blown away," Knutson said. "I knew we had a lot of yards in the air, but not that many."
Perham had 24 first downs to Detroit Lakes' 11. Max Gunderson threw for 135 yards and two touchdowns and Isaiah Thompson rushed for 88 yards and a touchdown for the Lakers. There wasn't anything out of the ordinary in the box score for the Lakers. The biggest thing was probably Reed Mace having a 57-yard punt and two punts inside the Perham 20-yard line.
"Stats don't mean everything," Detroit Lakes coach Josh Omang said. "Statistically, our defense had a terrible game, but really only had mistakes on a screen and a double pass where we went after the running back and let a guy get behind us. It was mostly their quarterback just throwing good balls.
"It was a fun game. It was a really good crowd and it was a good rivalry game. It was also clean, no real personal fouls or anything like. Just a good game."
The Battle for the Paddle began in 2011 between Perham and Detroit Lakes. Perham beat Detroit Lakes 35-28. A volunteer coach for Perham made a paddle and said they should use that as the traveling trophy. That's been the case since 2012 with the winner etched in the handle of the paddle. Counting 2011, Detroit Lakes has the upper hand at 5-3, but average margin of victory in the eight games is 7.8 points, including one game decided by two points and another by one.
"I think we both kind of knew the magnitude of the football game and what kind of level it was played at," Knutson said of his talk with Omang after the game. "It was bittersweet because we were both happy we could say we played in that game and the teams played good football. I handed them the trophy with pain though."
Berns will be back on the sideline Friday just in case more history happens.
"The hope is I'll be there if someone gets out of school and thinks back and says, 'Gee, I didn't do too bad at football. Is there a place I could see how I did?'" Berns said. "If anyone calls, I have their stats."