Aug. 29, 2012 – The fall of 1922 saw a new football coach arrive to take over the Butte High football program. It was not the most secure job in the world. During its previous twelve seasons, the Bulldogs had a coach serve one year at the post and then leave to go somewhere else. This new coach had different ideas. He was a former Bulldog who arrived in town after coaching at Hamilton for one season. His name was Harry “Swede” Dahlberg. His tenure at the Butte school would last more than four decades before Dahlberg hung up the whistle for good. Swede took over a football program that had not won a state championship in six years. He arrived two years after the Bulldogs suffered their worst defeat in school history an 84-0 pasting by Billings Senior. It would take time to rebuild the once proud Bulldogs’ football program that had captured fourteen state crowns during the first two decades of the 20th century. Dahlberg’s first team had a .500 record. By the next fall, Swede had rebuilt the Purple-and-White. The Bulldogs had an high-powered offensive machine tallying a school-record 460 points. It was a record that still stands today. By 1924, Dahlberg guided Butte High to its first football championship in eight years. It would be the first of nine state football crowns Swede’s teams would win during his tenure as the head coach. Yet, football was just one of Dahlberg’s many duties at Butte High. He also served as the school’s basketball and track coach. In the spring of 1924, Swede had his first state basketball champion. It started a string of five straight state championships, winning the 1924 track title, the 1924 football crown, the 1925 basketball and track titles. Swede led the Bulldogs basketball program through the 1951 season, winning six state titles. In football, he paced the sidelines 34 seasons hanging up the spikes after the 1955 campaign. His biggest love was track and field. Dahlberg stayed on as the Bulldogs track coach 44 seasons until 1966. Swede led the Bulldogs to 13 state track titles including four in a row from 1935-38. His final team, the 1966 Butte High boys’ track team, sent him out as a winner taking the state championship in Missoula. Swede’s accomplishments are legendary. He led Butte High to 28 state championships in three different sports. Dahlberg won over 200 games in both football and basketball. His efforts landed him a spot in the National High School Coaches Hall of Fame. Harry “Swede” Dahlberg’s road to success at Butte High all began 90 years ago this fall.
Harry “Swede” Dahlberg
Football record: 34 seasons, 222-81-20
State titles: 1924, 1927, 1929, 1930, 1931, 1935, 1937, 1940, 1941
Basketball record: 28 seasons, 409-298-1
State titles: 1924, 1925, 1928, 1932, 1933, 1941
Track: 44 seasons
State titles: 1924, 1925, 1927 1928, 1931, 1933, 1935, 1936, 1937, 1938, 1943, 1963, 1966