EagleHerald Sports Editor
Editors note: Seven new members will be inducted into the Marinette High School Hall of Fame Oct. 2 in a ceremony at Little River Country Club in Marinette. Each week, the EagleHerald will highlight one, with this week spotlighting Dale Wolf, class of 1995.
MARINETTE—When you’re only the second freshman to ever start on varsity under a legendary coach, you know you must be doing something right.
A two-sport standout in both football and basketball, Dale Wolf terrorized opposing offenses and defenses alike during his time as a four-year starter for Marinette coach Joel Hanner’s Marine teams of the early 1990s. Whether playing running back, quarterback or defensive back, Wolf made sure his presence was felt on the gridiron.
He was equally adept at frustrating opposing ball handlers during his four-year career on the varsity basketball team, with his tenacious defense spearheading a small revival in Marinette hoops.
No matter where he lined up, or what court the competition took place on, Wolf was always up for the task, and his standout prep career has landed him induction into the Marinette High School Hall of Fame class of 2021.
“I’m very excited and humbled. It’s a great honor,” Wolf said of his enshrinement. “I can think of a lot of very deserving people that aren’t in the hall of fame, so it’s a little overwhelming but at the same time it’s great to be able to represent not just myself, but all the other guys that I played with. I’m very proud.”
Wolf’s football career began after becoming just the second freshman to ever start on the varsity level for Hanner. The first? Legendary Marine and Marinette hall of famer Jeff Messenger, who himself went on to have a standout collegiate career for the University of Wisconsin Badgers. Wolf said that he felt the pressure as a freshman, but not because of following Messenger.
“Any time you step onto the field, there’s always pressure,” he said. “On a personal level, I knew a lot of the guys because my older brother (Andy Wolf) was the quarterback, so a lot of them were at our house and just hanging out. But in terms of performance, I certainly felt pressure. I still remember that I fumbled on my first carry.”
Wolf quickly resolved his fumbling issues and went on to accumulate 524 yards and five touchdowns for a Marines team that finished with a 5-5 record. He notched 588 rushing yards as a sophomore, setting the stage for bigger things as an upperclassman.
A two-time All-Bay Conference First Team selection at defensive back his junior and senior years, Wolf tallied three interceptions in 1993 and seven more the following season. As a junior, he scored nine total touchdowns while recording 75 total tackles and a fumble recovery.
He moved to quarterback as a senior and piloted the Marines to an undefeated 9-0 regular season mark before ultimately suffering a 42-14 defeat to Menomonie in the WIAA Division 2 playoff semifinals. On the year, Wolf accumulated 1,208 rushing yards and another 268 through the air along with 12 total touchdowns.
“I loved playing quarterback, with cornerback a close second,” Wolf said. “As a quarterback, I got to run the ball a lot and score touchdowns, which is what every kid wants. But playing defense was fun, too. I was always matched up against the other team’s toughest receiver and my job was to just be a pest and not let them catch the ball. Basically, I was just a pest.”
Despite all the statistical success, Wolf said that his fondest memories of his Marinette football career revolved around the shared experiences of him and his teammates.
“The thing that I remember most are all the bus rides and locker room time with the guys. We were a close group,” he said.
Those same feelings of togetherness carried over into the basketball season, where Wolf and his teammates steadily improved Marinette’s record year after year.
“Even though we didn’t have the most successful careers in terms of wins and losses, we still all loved playing basketball together and had so much fun doing it,” Wolf said. “My dad (then-Marinette coach Jay Wolf) really got me into it and was a big influence.”
Wolf served as the Marines’ sixth man as a freshman and averaged 7.7 points per game before moving into the starting lineup as a sophomore. He scored 147 total points (nine points per game) for a Marinette team that finished 7-14 overall and 5-13 in the Bay Conference.
Injuries cost Wolf playing time as a junior, finishing with 90 total points on a 9-12 Marines squad. As a senior, he was named Second Team All-Bay Conference and hit one of the most memorable shots in Marinette basketball history.
Facing Green Bay Preble in the WIAA Division 2 Regional opening round, Wolf nailed a turnaround jumper from beyond the 3-point line despite a defender having a hand in his face, sealing the 38-35 victory for Marinette. He scored a total of 264 points and helped the Marines finish 10-12, its best record in years.
After graduating from Marinette in 1995, Wolf attended the University of Minnesota-Duluth and played football for the Bulldogs, redshirting his freshman year before becoming a four-year starter at defensive back.
He currently resides in Lakeville, Minnesota.