TROPHY CASE: Ulrich had big impact on 2006 R-P title team

Matt Ulrich stood out not only because of his imposing size -- 6-feet-8, 270 pounds -- but also because of his play and leadership on the field. Ulrich, now the co-defensive coordinator at Winona State University, was a key member of Rushford-Peterson's 2006 state championship football team.


Rushford-Peterson won three Class A state football titles between 2002-06 and Matt Ulrich was a huge presence for Trojans’ final championship team.

Ulrich was a dominating force on both the offensive and defensive lines for the Trojans and at

6-foot-8 and 270 pounds, he was intimidating as well.

“It was good to have that size,” Ulrich said. “I probably didn’t move as well as I would have liked back then when I was in high school. I developed that a little bit more when I got to college.”

During their 2006 championship season, Ulrich helped the Trojans run the ball on offense while helping R-P smother opponents on defense.


“In 2006, Ulrich was kind of the anchor of that team,” R-P coach Jim Reinhardt said. “We didn’t have any great stars on that team. We were just really solid. We had a good quarterback and a couple of pretty good running backs.”

“It helped playing in a smaller class (of football), we didn’t have as many bigger kids,” Ulrich said. “In the couple of classes before me at Rushford, we had some size. We had some defensive size for our class on the offensive and defensive line my senior year.”


Reinhardt called his biggest player an anchor for the team, but Ulrich was just trying to be a piece in the puzzle while helping the Trojans go 13-1 in 2006.

“I didn’t really think of myself as that,” Ulrich said. “I just thought that you need to provide as much leadership as you can and a lot of guys did that. I think a lot of guys bought in (to the system) so it was probably an easier job to be in a leadership role with that sort of team.”

Ulrich also played basketball under coach Tom Vix at Rushford-Peterson and the Trojans went to state all three years he was on the varsity. They lost in the state championship game his sophomore season and won the Class A state title his junior season in 2006.

“We had coaches that were tough on you in a good way and really held you to a high standard and emphasized the importance of practice and practicing hard,” Ulrich said. “And offseason workouts, I think that and the type of practices we had kind of helped prepare me for the college level.”


Ulrich’s experience at Rushford-Peterson served him very well at the next level. Ulrich went on to be a four-year starter at Winona State University. At WSU, he usually played at between 295 and 310 pounds.

As a senior, he earned All-America honors at defensive tackle in 2011. He was the 2010 NSIC South Division Preseason Player of the Year, and earned All-NSIC honors in each of his final three seasons with the Warriors.


“Coach Reinhardt was an awesome coach, but coach Vix was really good, too, for basketball,” Ulrich said. “So I was pretty well prepared as a high school kid going to college.”

They also may have helped shape his future career. Ulrich hadn’t given coaching much thought when he was still playing. When Ulrich was done playing at Winona State, he had a tryout with the Minnesota Vikings.

“I got cut and was going to give it another year and try the next year,” Ulrich said. “I was working out and the coaching staff at Winona reached out to me and asked if I wanted to help coach that year so I said yes. And I just kind of fell in love with coaching.”

Ulrich has been a coach ever since. He spent one year on staff at Winona State after graduation before becoming a graduate assistant coach at Notre Dame College in Ohio in 2013-14. He spent the 2015 season at Division I California Davis before returning to Notre Dame as the special teams coordinator in 2016, and the co-defensive coordinator in 2017. Ulrich also coached the defensive line in his final two seasons at Notre Dame College.

Ulrich returned to Winona State in 2018 and serves as the co-defensive coordinator, defensive line coach and recruiting coordinator.

Due to COVID-19, the Warriors will not get to play this fall but might have a spring season.

“We haven’t really heard exactly what we’re going to be able to do with the guys and practices, if we’re going to be able to practice this fall,” Ulrich said.”I’m sure we’ll be able to do something whether it’s in the weight room or just get on the turf with our position group even if it’s not a whole team practice.”

Guy N. Limbeck is a Rochester native who has been working at a daily newspaper since 1981. He has worked at the Post Bulletin since 1999. Readers can reach Guy at 507-285-7724 or
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