UPDATED: Hefta named new head football coach at Detroit Lakes

Hefta takes over for Josh Omang to become the fourth Laker head coach since 1985.

Detroit Lakes junior running back Caeden Yliniemi races to the pylon to score a touchdown in a 21-7 victory over the Green Wave Thursday, Oct. 15, 2020, at East Grand Forks high school. Robert Williams / Tribune

Reed Hefta has been selected, pending school board approval, to be the next Detroit Lakes head football coach.

Hefta was a lineman on both sides of the ball playing 9-man football at Underwood high school, making the state semifinals in back-to-back years, before playing collegiately at Concordia College in Moorhead.

As a Cobber, he was a three-year, all-conference award winner at defensive end.

Reed Hefta
Reed Hefta at defensive end for the Cobbers. Photo courtesy: Concordia College.


Hefta’s early football influences were from his head coach at Underwood, Kevin Dockter, and Concordia head coach Terry Horan and defensive coordinator Kyle Bakken.

Becoming a head football coach has been a personal pursuit of Hefta’s since childhood.

“It’s always been one of the things I’ve wanted to do,” he said. “You don’t always think you’re going to jump from a position coach to the head coach but it was one of those situations that’s a cool opportunity and you’re going to jump at it when you can.”

Hefta is a health and weight training teacher at DLHS and has been with the football and speed and strength programs since 2013. He's a Concordia College graduate and completed his master’s degree at Minnesota State University Moorhead in 2019.

Hefta replaces Josh Omang, who stepped down after accepting the new principal position at the high school earlier this year. Omang had a career coaching record at Detroit Lakes of 34-12 from 2016-2020.

Reed Hefta

Being a part of Omang’s staff and gaining further experience from DL’s past two prior head coaches, Rick Manke and Flint Motschenbacher, both Hall of Famers, has been a big boost in Hefta’s personal growth on the sidelines in preparing to take over the program.


“I’ve been lucky enough to have been in Detroit Lakes for eight years,” Hefta said. “Just to know what it takes to be a Laker football coach. I know Manke really well.”

Motschenbacher gave Hefta the opportunity to begin his coaching career at Detroit Lakes.

“He let me be involved and let me get my feet in the ground,” Hefta said. “Josh has been a big brother to me growing up here, especially the last five to six years. Being close with his family, he’s really allowed me to help. If you want to be a head football coach, you have to be 100% invested. Josh has really been instrumental in me being able to have this opportunity.”

Creating relationships with Manke and Motschenbacher, who were both responsible for creating the success DL football is known for, along with bringing to town the four state championships (1992, 1993, 1995, 2001), are building blocks that lead to the cohesion with current members of the staff and administration that tie back to the Hall of Fame duo.

“Between Rick, Flint, Josh and Rob (Nielsen) there are so many resources,” said Hefta. “There is so much experience on our staff with Vern (Schnathorst), (Mike) Labine and (Dave) Meyer, there are a lot of awesome opportunities with all of our coaches.”

At the basis of that opportunity is continuing what Manke and Motschenbacher brought to Laker football.

“My big thing is continuing the pride and tradition,” Hefta said. “People come back, they’re invested in this program, and I don’t take that lightly. I will work tirelessly to make sure we hold up that tradition.”

The current football coaching staff met to discuss the future of the program after Omang accepted the principal position.


“Once Josh took the principal job, after that took hold, we all met as a staff and wanted to be on the same front,” said Hefta.

DL's new head coach and the returning assistants will have a couple new Section 8AAAA rivals entered into the playoff mix in 2021.

In changes for the upcoming season, released by the Minnesota State High School League this month, Detroit Lakes, ROCORI and Little Falls remain in the five-team Section 8-4A. Grand Rapids and Willmar have been moved; Becker and St. Cloud Apollo have been added.

For more information on historical coaching changes visit the team's website to see a digital copy of "Laker Pride - The History of Laker Football 1901-2016," compiled by Motschenbacher.

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Read more stories by Robert Williams here .

Robert Williams has been a sports editor for Forum Communications in Perham and Detroit Lakes since 2011.
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