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— FROM THE BEGINNING —
Chroniciling our history since the day we stepped on the field as J-Hawks

The Calloway Years ~ 1982-1990

1982

      After serving sixteen years as Jefferson’s head football coach, exit Jack Fisk, enter 35 year old Bill Calloway. His resume offered promise of new beginnings and innovation. A UNI football player and grad, Calloway immediately began service as an assistant coach to head Panther Stan Sherriff for two years in Cedar Falls. He then joined Wally Sheets at Cedar Rapids Washington as Warrior offensive coordinator from 1974-79. Bill also served as head boys track coach winning a state title with the Warriors in 1977.
      Bill was selected from a field of over 30 applicants,  seven of which were interviewed by principal William C. Jacobson. WCJ was seeking a fresh start with an emphasis on cutting edge training techniques. Calloway had a sound reputation for offensive imagination and promised to use a Tri-Power weight training program to build speed, strength and stamina. His first varsity staff included Denny Kohl, Bob Allen and Sean Shanahan. They welcomed back 14 lettermen including a promising backfield of Steve Wise (quarterback), Dave Bishop (fullback), and tailbacks Dave Peterson and Al Schmitz.
      As is so often true of first year programs, the offense exhibited growing pains in three of the four opening contests, effectively shut down by strong units from Waterloo East, Hempstead and Senior. A breakout win over City High eased the slow start, but decisive losses to Washington and Wahlert left the J-Hawks at just 2-5 entering the home stretch against Kennedy and IC West. Calloway’s offense found its footing and erupted on the Cougars and Trojans producing positive feelings for future success in the off-season and beyond. Gazette writer Chip Marshall included this Calloway reflection after week 9: “It’s been a tough year. It’s a tribute to our kids for hanging in there, especially after an 0-2 start. But we made a lot of progress toward the tail end of the season and we hope the enthusiasm will carry over.”

Post Season Honors:
Second Team All-State: Pat Robinson NG | also 1st Team MVC
HM All-State: Kevin Lighty DB | also 2nd Team MVC
2nd Team MVC: Bob Driscoll E
2nd Team MVC: Kevin Zacek OL

1983

      The second edition of Calloway’s “Big Blue Wrecking Crew” promised improvements in large part due to off season weight room commitment. In a Gazette pre-season football outlook Calloway stated, “Although we only return two starters, we will be a good team…no ifs ands or buts about it. We’re stronger, had a great pre-season, and we have a very good attitude.”
      Led by seniors Marty Pearson (QB), Bob Driscoll (TE), Mark Bender (C), Mike Boyd (FL) and Mike Knox (FB) on offense and Brad Bair (LB), Ron Hlavacek (CB) and Ken Wilford (DT) on defense, the remainder of the starting positions were manned by juniors. In addition, during the first game Calloway elevated sophomore running back Randy Meier to the line up where he toiled all season. At 6’4” Driscoll was a big target and had a tremendous year. The phrase “Pearson-to-Driscoll” was printed often in the media. With the exception of lopsided losses to playoff bound teams Hempstead and Wahlert, the J-Hawk defense stiffened from the previous year. Indeed, the boys in blue were in every other game with a chance to win.
      Through no fault of their own, midseason disappointment occurred when week 5 opponent Ottumwa cancelled their game refusing to field a team. During the second half of the season, often one play decided games. Yielding a late safety to cross town rival Washington (6-8) and a late touchdown run by Kennedy (0-7) proved costly. Winless, entering the final game against 0-8 Iowa City West, the J-Hawk offense exploded for 42 points to drub the hapless Trojans producing the lone victory of the 1-7 campaign.
      Assessing his second season at the helm, Calloway reported, “It’s amazing the way this team always came back and got up for games. They are an excellent group, which has made it all the easier. I’ve been with teams with better records, but were not nearly as enjoyable to coach. We just kept improving, every game.”
      Bob Driscoll finished his season, one less game than other teams, second in the MVC in receptions (32) for 459 yards and 5 TD’s. He went on to a fine career playing for the Northwestern Wildcats in the Big Ten. Driscoll and Darrell Long were later inducted into the Jefferson Football Hall of Fame.

Post Season Honors:
Bob Driscoll: First Team All-State (TE)  Third Team All-State (FS)
Darrell Long: HM MVC (NG)
Brad Bair: HM MVC (LB)
Scott Gull: HM MVC (SE)
Mark Bender: HM MVC (C)

1984

      After the disappointment of a one win season, and with so many starting underclassmen returning for their senior campaign, the off season push towards Calloway’s Tri-Power weight room program intensified. 19 of 22 starting positions were claimed by hungry seniors who were also known to be feisty and ornry. The consensus was if the offense stayed healthy, and the defense held up their end of the bargain, this could be a successful squad.
      In the opener the J-Hawks sported new air force blue and silver uniforms patterned after the Detroit Lions, but the new look was not enough as the boys in a “new-blue” succumbed 7-14 to their recent northern nemesis Waterloo East. Down, but no where near out, they rebounded with a week two shocker over perennial power Hempstead 21-7. Mustang coach Bob Timmerman reflected, “Jeff looks like the old physical Jack Fisk teams. They’re strong!” Upon hearing that reflection, Calloway stated the obvious in the Gazette game summary: “It goes back to last November. Our guys committed to the weight room. This is what happens when you hit the weights, we’re physical now. We knew we’d be good and that’s no bull. Check out our guys with their shirts off sometime and you’ll understand why.”
      Weeks five and six proved a potential playoff undoing when the J-Hawks lost hard fought battles to Linn-Mar and Washington. At 3-3 they needed to run the table in the final three games and get a little outside help in order to qualify for one of the four eastern half 4A post season slots.
      Win-out they did. Calloway’s squad outscored their final two opponents 84-0 with a possible playoff spot hanging in the balance. But inclusion in the post-season was not to be. MVC mates Wash and Linn-Mar both were “in” and a usually reliable 6-3 record left the J-Hawks “out.”
      Both offense and defense shined in what is undoubtedly remembered as Calloway’s most successful team. Junior Matt Usher took over at quarterback midseason after injuries to Jim Allbright. The offense also unveiled the wishbone formation, switching over to surprise the Rams in a 22-6 win over Dubuque Senior.
      For the season, junior running back Randy Meier led the ground game with 478 yards. Greg Roloff was also effective rushing with Usher in the triple option.
      The proof of vast improvement on both sides of the ball was evident noting the team outscored its opposition 186-88. The defense was statistically tops in the MVC. They had the fewest points allowed, the stingiest pass defense and total defense. Hall of Famer Darrell Long led the rock ribbed unit from his nose guard position. Chris Lien, Scott Wischmeyer, Gary Feaker and Mark Tiedtke were standouts on D-coordinator Sean Shanahan’s defense.
      Darrell Long and Al Chism were later inducted into the Jefferson Football Hall of Fame. Long went on to wrestle at UNI while Chism was a four year letterman and team captain for Central College. He also returned to Jefferson as a teacher and served as a football coach for two decades assisting Jim Dostal and Jim Womochil.

Post Season Honors:
1st Team All-State Darrell Long (later inducted into Jeff Football Hall of Fame)
1st Team MVC: Dave Simon, Chris Lien, Scott Wischmeyer and Gary Feaker
2nd MVC: Randy Meier, Scott Gull and Chris Watson
Honorable Mention: Mark Tiedtke, Jim Lockett, Al Chism, Craig Nelson,
Joe Moon, Kut Kaliban and Curt Olson

1985

      The veer option offense would no longer take anyone by surprise. With quarterback Matt Usher and running back Randy Meier returning from solid junior campaigns, and the addition of newcomer Damon Robinson, the possibility of scoring a lot of points seemed likely.
      The schedule however, was daunting. A rugged opener at East Waterloo, followed by a visit from always tough Hempstead would prove key. The much anticipated offense could only muster two scores in two weeks. Week three offered a chance to get untracked, but the Little Hawks from Iowa City nipped the J-Hawks in double overtime. After a win against Senior, it was time to line up against Linn Mar, who in weeks-to-come proved to be the eventual 4A state champions. A loss to the Lions was followed by decisive setbacks to Washington (state semifinalists) and Wahlert. With two games left, the J-Hawks found themselves in a 1-6 hole. Coach Calloway and staff knew how they wanted their team to finish the season. Would the players rise to the challenge?
      Solid wins over rival Kennedy and I.C. West allowed the seniors to exit with their heads held high. Oddly enough at 3-6 the J-Hawks tied for third in the MVC behind Wash and City High. (Note: Linn Mar would not join the MVC until 1986)
      After the 20-13 win over the Cougars, a game in which they were down 6-13 at half, Calloway was quoted in the Gazette: “This win is a tribute to the kids. It’s hard to be in this position. But we have never had a bad practice this season. I’ve never seen that with a football team.”
      Banquet MVP’s were Randy Meier and lineman Mark Weber. Captains were Meier, Weber, Usher and lineman Mark Hartman.

Post Season Honors:
All-State Honorable Mention: Randy Meier and Jason Hunt
1st Team MVC:   Meier, Hunt, Brian Kaliban
2nd Team MVC: Weber and Larry Langer
Honorable Mention: Al Pulkrab, Tim Martens, John Schneider and Dan Heiken

1986

      The Mississippi Valley Conference added Prairie and Linn Mar in the fall of 1986. Additionally, the playoff qualifying system upgraded from 8 qualifying teams per class, to 16. This meant for the first time eight teams from the eastern half of the state would play beyond the regular season. Jefferson had not been to the post season since 1979 and the expansion offered an opening. Calloway and his staff looked at their schedule which included four preseason top 10 ranked teams in addition to defending state champion Linn Mar. It would be a challenge to be sure. In an interesting sidenote: Only eight games were scheduled. Those teams not making the playoffs would be responsible for scheduling another non-non-qualifier for a week nine tilt.
      Outside of the sport Coach Calloway and principal William C. Jacobson felt the top Jefferson athletes could benefit from a “for-credit” class dealing with the mental aspects of competition. They co-taught a Peak Performance Class for selected upperclassmen based on the Charles Garfield best seller. Several football players took advantage of the opportunity.
      Senior quarterback Jeff Sharpe and running back Damon Robinson were certain to provide the speed to fuel Calloway’s veer option offense. Indeed, Calloway expressed optimism in a preseason interview, “This is the fastest backfield I’ve coached. If we stay healthy we’ll be a contender. This is the best attitude I’ve been around.”
      The opening game of the season is always key, but even more so this time around. Waterloo East was the opponent for the fifth year in a row. The Trojans had sent the J-Hawks to 0-1 in each of the last four campaigns and this year began the season ranked #7 in the polls. Another donnybrook ensued, but this time the blue and white came out on top 34-26. Entering week two it was the J-Hawks who were ranked in the top ten for the first time during the Calloway era. But success was short lived as the Wahlert Golden Eagles dampened Jefferson spirits with a 14-7 overtime victory.
      There was no time to lick wounds or feel sorry as a trip to #3 ranked Bettendorf came next. The J-Hawk defense shut out the Bulldogs and the J-Hawks earned a hard fought 6-2 win. A double overtime loss the following week to Hempstead continued the roller coaster season. Then it was on to #5 Linn Mar, the defending state champions. A 7-21 loss to the Lions proved no disgrace, Linn Mar would again rally to the state championship game in weeks to come.
      Crosstown rival Washington loomed. A Calloway coached team had never beaten the Warriors or Calloway’s mentor Wally Sheets. In a 15-14 nail-biter, the J-Hawks rewarded their coach with his first Jeff-Wash victory. A 0-7 loss to Prairie followed, however, showing no quit, the team finished with two solid wins for a 5-4 season.
      Senior Damon Robinson summed it up this way: “We wanted to go to the playoffs so bad. I guess our intensity was good one game and not so good the next.” Head man Bill Calloway reflected, “We lost four games to outstanding ball clubs. Our schedule was already set, we knew what we were getting into. The problem is we hurt ourselves. We could have easily gotten down, but this is a great, great bunch of kids.”

Post Season Honors:
All-State Honorable Mention: Jeff Sharpe, Derek Moser and Damon Robinson
1st Team MVC: Sharpe, Robinson and Rod Walton
Honorable Mention: Dave Reid, Troy Cook, Shane Dunlevy and Dennis Dye

1987

     A great off-season commitment to the weight room and the return of four interior linemen offered high expectations going into the new season. Coach Bill Calloway expressed great confidence in his August predictions, “There are a lot of good teams in the MVC this year, and we are one of them. There should be a lot of parity. We are hoping to be a big surprise to everyone but ourselves.”
      Unfortunately three tough loses were the grim reality coming out of the chute. Calloway didn’t candy coat things after the third set back, “ We are our own worst enemy. We are not getting flat out beat physically. We’re as physical as anyone. We just haven’t corrected our mistakes.”
      Imagine the mindset of any team sitting at 0-3 going into a week four game against 3-0 and #1 ranked Hempstead at Dalzell Field. In a result that sent shockwaves around the state, Jefferson upset the Mustangs 15-14 for a season defining victory against all odds. Calloway’s response, “We got a taste of what we felt we deserved with this team.”
      Tight loses to #5 Linn Mar and #2 Washington followed, before a decisive loss at Prairie. Sitting at 1-6, it was gut-check time with two games remaining against Kennedy and City High. The boys in blue rebounded, gut punching the Cougars 29-7, and in the season finale found themselves down 0-14 at half before rallying to stun the Little Hawks 29-20. Their coach summed it up this way: “This win is dedicated to the seniors. They worked hard, dedicated themselves all year. It was amazing with the tough season we had that the kids would regroup as they’ve done. 95% of the teams in our spot would have folded their tent.”
      Finishing at 3-6, it is amazing to note the J-Hawks finished 6th in the MVC while the five teams above them all qualified for the playoffs. Running back Tom Welsh finished second in the MVC averaging 112 yards per game. Linebacker John Fitzgerald set a school record for tackles in a season with 73 solo and 48 assists. At the banquet Welsh was named MVP while Shane Dunlevy, Dave Quentin, Welsh and Fitzgerald were named captains.
      Fitzgerald, Dunlevy and Quentin were later inducted into the Jefferson Football Hall of Fame. Fitzgerald went on to play for Simpson, Dunlevy for Iowa State and Quentin for Truman State.

Post Season Honors:
All-State 2nd Team: John Fitzgerald
All-State Honorable Mention: Dave Quentin
1st Team MVC: Fitzgerald, Tom Welsh, Quentin and Dunlevy
Honorable Mention: Bret Ranard, Gary Perkins and Mark Woldruff

1988

      The memory of starting out 0-3 the previous year weighed heavily in the minds of the returning letterman, as was being the highest placing MVC team to not make the playoffs. The message was clear, regardless of strength of schedule the J-Hawks had to come out fast during the early part of the season and establish themselves as front runners. For the first time in three years all MVC teams played each other in a nine game schedule. Gone was the short lived IHSAA formula of first round playoff matchups during week 8, with non-qualifiers responsible themselves for finding a week 9 opponent.
      Positive and enthusiastic as always, Bill Calloway found a lot to be excited about when discussing his team. Four speedsters were slated to occupy the wishbone backfield in seniors Adam Wright (QB) and Mike Stucker (RB). Joining them were junior phenoms Ed Threatt Jr. (RB) and Shaft Baker (FB). Calloway stated, “We’ll use the wishbone all the way. I’m also pleased with the play of our O-line. All four backs 40 times average 4.65.”
      Week one held a rematch with Hempstead. The same Mustangs who were ranked #1 in week four the previous season only to be bush-whacked by the winless J-Hawks. Most certainly revenge was on their minds. But when the opening whistle blew at Kingston Stadium it was the boys in blue who brought “the-nasty.” When the dust settled it was Jeff 28- Hempy 20.
      Entering week two the J-Hawks were wary of a Prairie team who kept them from the playoff field a year earlier. The defense rose to the occasion and shut out the Hawks 6-0. For the first time in Bill Calloway’s tenure the team was 2-0 to start the season. But next up crosstown nemesis Kennedy spoiled the short lived streak when they nipped their rival 13-12. Rebounding with a tough 27-25 win over Senior the slate read 4-1 at the midway point. The J-Hawks held destiny in their own hands for the first time in a decade. But roster depth would soon prove to be an issue.
      Sadly, injury took its toll. For the week five match up with Washington the J-Hawks were minus 3 starting offensive linemen, their senior signal caller and one running back. The Warriors feasted, shutting out the J-Hawks to the tune of 35-0. Then Linn Mar smelled blood in the water and came to Kingston squeaking out a 27-20 win. The offense was reeling and the defense followed suit in a 32-0 pasting by MVC champion City High. Standing at 4-3 with three games remaining it was time to get healthy and earn that coveted playoff spot that proved so elusive. Jeff easily sidelined hapless I.C. West, but lost in week nine to top ten ranked Wahlert finishing a respectable 5-4, but losing 4 of their last 5.
      Once again, the J-Hawks finished sixth in the MVC only to watch each of the five teams ahead of them qualify for the 4A state playoffs…for the second year in a row. The thought lingered in everyone’s mind, what might have been if not for the rash of midseason injuries.
      At the season end banquet Shayne Morton was voted MVP. Morton, Larry White and Tracy Walter were named captains. Future Jefferson teacher and principal Chad Szabo was awarded the Thad Miller-Attitude Award. Szabo would go on to become a four year letterman for Cornell College and senior team captain. He would also go on to coach at his college and high school alma maters. He was later inducted into the Jefferson Football Hall of Fame.

Post Season Honors:
All-State Honorable Mention: Mike Stucker and Todd Richardson
1st Team MVC: Stucker and Richardson
2nd Team MVC: Cory Boyles and Shayne Morton
Honorable Mention: Rick Childs, Tracy Walter and Jeremy Schultz

1989

      During each of the previous two seasons Jefferson was the highest placing MVC team to not qualify for the playoffs. Would this be the year they punch their ticket? They returned junior quarterback B.J. Calloway and future All State running backs Ed Threatt Jr. and Shaft Baker and with that in mind began the season utilizing the wing T formation. The question mark resided on the defensive side of the ball and with the offensive line play.
      The opener was against always tough Hempstead. Three of the last four seasons the J-Hawks had bested the Mustangs, something few in the MVC could boast. Hall of Fame coach Bob Timmerman unleashed the dogs on the boys in blue and left the field with a 34-6 drubbing and a measure of revenge. Week two on the schedule offered one of the best defenses in the state in Prairie. A 25-0 shut out of the J-Hawks ensued and it left Jeff offensive coaches scratching their heads in search of answers.
      The solution of course was a secret return to the wishbone for a week three matchup with Kennedy. The result was a third loss bowing to the Cougars 36-42, but there was newfound offensive production. The close game instilled a newfound confidence and the team found its sea-legs. Consecutive wins over Senior and Washington set the table for as classic matchup with the state’s best defense in #1 ranked Linn Mar. On the road at Armstrong Field the J-Hawks stubbornly gave the Lions all they could handle, and then some, pushing the game to overtime before yielding 30-36. Greg Purnell’s Lions would go on to win the 1989 state championship!
      It was crystal clear that with three games remaining the Jefferson offense was feeling its oats. Sitting at 2-4 the team was not yet mathematically eliminated from the post season. Win out and anything was possible. The J-Hawks mojo just kept on rising as they defeated City High and West on consecutive Fridays, then finished up with a nip and tuck 29-27 win at Wahlert.
      At 5-4 the J-Hawks placed fourth in the MVC behind Linn Mar, Hempstead and a City High who they had defeated. All three teams above them qualified for the playoffs. But once again, and for the third year in a row, Jefferson was on the post-season bubble when it burst.
      Coach Calloway was upbeat in accessing the season, “We put on a great finish giving Linn Mar a test and then winning the final three games. I’d like to think we can keep the wishbone going next season. It depends on whether we can find the kids who fight for those 3 or 4 extra yards. I think we can, but we’ll never replace Threatt and Baker.”
      Threatt and Baker were truly an amazing pair of running backs. Their offense set the MVC rushing mark of 2556 yards with Ed totaling 1168 yards, #1 in the MVC and Shaft #2 with 1017 yards. Threatt was named Player of the Year by MVC coaches and in doing so set the school’s all time rushing mark for a career. He was later inducted into the Jefferson Football Hall of Fame after a fine career at UNI, one season during which he was the tailback lining up behind Kurt Warner.

Post Season Honors:
All-State 1st Team: Ed Threatt Jr.
All-State 3rd Team: Shaft Baker
All-State Honorable Mention: Corey Birkicht
MVC 1st Team: Threatt, Baker and Birkicht
MVC 2nd Team: Gary Greiner, Gary Heath and Bob Akers
Honorable Mention: Jason Hess

1990

      The loss of two all state running backs with loads of athleticism should signal a rebuilding-year theme in Bill Calloway’s ninth year at the helm. But the head man delivered an eye opening preseason statement: “Our overall team speed is better this year over last.” The J-Hawks, led by senior quarterback B.J. Calloway, remembered the 0-3 start last year’s team suffered through before settling in and finding their rhythm. A good start was key as the bottom half of the schedule was loaded with talented teams, four of which would ultimately make the playoffs, one of which would repeat as state champions.
      As hoped, this edition came out of the blocks on fire winning their first three games. After a throttling of MVC doormat I.C. West as a confidence builder it was on to always physical Prairie. The matchup was to begin being affectionately know as the Kolache Bowl. A come from behind effort produced a grind-it-out 12-7 win setting the stage for the annual grudge match with the team from across-the-river. With yet another late game surge, the Warriors fell to the big blue wrecking crew 22-21. After the emotional win Calloway told the Gazette, “We have a bunch of kids who believe they can come back from adversity and play hard a full game.”
      At 3-0 the offense was clicking and the defense was doing just enough to secure the “W”. Impressive for a group of seniors that were unable to win a game as sophomores. They were bolstered by a strong junior class which had experienced success in the lower levels. But the late season gauntlet ahead suggested the winning may be harder to come by.
      Losing six in a row, the final two thirds of the season witnessed the J-Hawks yielding close hard fought games up until the last two, against state champion Linn Mar and perennial power Hempstead.
Greg Boyd was named team MVP. Captains were Boyd, Calloway, Mark Zahradnik and Kirk Wischmeyer. Ted Kramer was voted best lineman, Brad Poock earned the Hustle Award, Brian Barth was most improved and Jason Shaw won the Thad Miller Attitude Award. Greg Boyd went on to a tremendous college football career at Coe and was later inducted into the Jefferson Football Hall of Fame.
       After nine seasons, and a record of 35-45, Bill Calloway announced his resignation after the banquet. Principal Bob Tesar expressed disappointment, “I can say so many good things about Bill and the contributions he makes to the school.” Athletic Director Dennis Goettel echoed the sentiment, “Three of the last five years  we were the 17th team in the playoff system where 16 qualify.” Calloway summed it up with a broader view: “Through the years I got to work with a lot of great kids. Hopefully I taught them the importance of hard work.”

Post Season Honors:
All-State 2nd Team Greg Boyd
MVC 1st Team: Boyd and Mark Zahradnik
MVC 2nd Team: Matt Uhde and Kirk Wischmeyer
Honorable Mention: B.J. Calloway, Ted Kramer and Thad McDowell


 
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