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Chroniciling our history since the day we stepped on the field as J-Hawks

The Buesing Years ~ 2018-Present


Once before, Jefferson handed the keys of its football program to an All State J-Hawk alumnus with a stellar career as a linebacker. It was repeated in 2018 when Chris Buesing was hired to replace Brian Webb. Buesing had been Webb’s defensive coordinator over six years, following assistant coaching stints at Dubuque Senior and CR Washington. Buesing was a 1999 Jefferson team captain, a 2000 Shrine Bowl captain and a Loras College team captain as well as two-time All IIAC conference selection as a linebacker. When hired he was already teaching at the west-side school, also serving as J-Hawk head boys track coach.

One of his goals was to build a foundation for the future by getting into the youth feeder programs and increasing participation levels. He also sought to link the future to the past by acknowledging Jefferson’s football history on as many fronts as possible without detracting from today’s focus. Above all, earn respect, maintain discipline and order and develop good players and good people. Buesing toiled under many fine coaches who built competitive teams that failed to shrink or disappear on game day.

Unfortunately for Buesing, the cupboard was near empty when he opened it in search of seniors. He also had recent Jeff coaching history going against him. Since the early 80’s, no newly arrived Jefferson football coach had come out of the gates with a winning record in his first season. But the new man kept his focus on building from below. He understood his task was to forge slowly, even if it meant taking baby-steps in year one. And, oh yes, there was the schedule. The J-Hawks were assigned to one of the deepest and most talent-laden districts in the state. Road trips were booked to Muscatine, Waterloo, Cedar Falls and twice to Dubuque, to end the season.

Opening the season against a hungry Kennedy team intent on making a deep playoff run proved disappointing. The Cougars rolled 34-0. In a week-two contest against Muscatine, the J-Hawks proved competitive. The game concluded after two overtimes, but the Muskies prevailed 40-37.

During another tightly contested game, this one at Linn-Mar in week three, Jeff took a lead into halftime. But the Lions took over, claiming the 33-14 win. The midseason battle with Washington got ugly early. The first tussle for the Cedar River Rivalry trophy was happily claimed by the Warriors after a 54-14 rout.

The highlight of the season was a 21-19 tightly-contested victory over Waterloo West handing Buesing his first career win as a head coach. It was also a coming out party for junior Jake Thompson who, in the likeness of his coach, was athletic, strong and tenacious. Long on modesty and short on swagger, Thompson was a gritty battering ram in the backfield and a sure-tackling linebacker with a nose for the ball. As hoped, a win against the Wahawks provided evidence that a young team was learning how to fight back.

But prosperity was short lived when the next three weeks produced successive blue beatdowns, first at the hands of Cedar Falls, 38-7, then Prairie, 41-6, and finally Hempstead, 35-0. The season finale pitted two evenly matched teams, Jefferson and Dubuque Senior. The J-Hawks yielded late, 21-20. A missed PAT was the difference.

In four close games, the J-Hawks mustered just one victory. If there was a bright spot, it was the emergence of a junior class that was assisted by the elevation of two promising sophomore linemen. Yes, the team took its lumps, but it toughen and seasoned them. They were a group that understood “what doesn’t kill you, just makes you stronger.” Buesing’s first edition ended 1-8.


2019 Chris Buesing started his second season as skipper with something vastly different from the previous year. He now possessed battle-tested seniors who brought a positive chemistry to practice each afternoon. In addition, seven of nine games would be contested within the metro area.

The theme for the 2019 season was “It’s the Next Play.” The emphasis would be placed on controlling what you do going forward. It was universally agreed, the team focus was “getting better every practice, every game.”

For the opener, the J-Hawks gave No. 9 ranked Kennedy more than it bargained for in a non-district opener. The final was 21-10, but Cougar coach Brian White had high praise for the opposition, “They are a good football team, and if people don’t know that, they are going to know it soon. We had our hands full.” Kennedy advanced as far as the 4A semifinals post-season.

Against Muscatine, the final tally was 23-6. Head coach Chris Buesing focused on the big picture, “We have a bunch of veteran guys that have been in the system. There are some things out there that they did tonight that you just can’t coach, just rising up and having the character. I am proud and really happy for them.”

Week three was Homecoming, but minus a king and queen, or the Band of Blue. It was a Thursday evening contest whose start time was moved up to 5:00 because of impending severe weather. The started on time, but didn’t end until 10:00. In the end, Linn-Mar reached out and grabbed victory as it hung in the balance,14-6.

Two stars in the night sky twinkled brightly when the J-Hawks defeated Washington 24-7, claiming the Cedar River Rivalry Trophy for the first time in its two-year existence. Former coaches, Ted Lawrence and Jack Fisk, both deceased, but surely smiling down from above, knew what lay in store for current coach Chris Buesing— a toss into the river Saturday morning, courtesy of his players. Lawrence started the coach dunking tradition in the early sixties. Reminded of school history, current day J-Hawks used it as motivation and brought it back. There was nothing simple about the 24-7 win over a Warrior unit that came ready to play.

The lone excursion out of the metro area for the J-Hawks surely produced a happy bus ride back down I-380 from Waterloo. There was also nothing easy about the hard fought 31-21 conquest of a West High unit that had previously been ranked in the 4A top ten.

No. 2 ranked Cedar Falls visited Kingston on a Thursday and showed why it was the highest ranked team in Eastern Iowa. Final verdict: CF 28-0. For the second week in a row, one of the best 4A teams in eastern Iowa defeated the J-Hawks, winning 46-19. In the process, the Prairie Hawks took home the inaugural “West-Side-Best-Side” trophy representing the Kolache Bowl.

Dubuque Hempstead edged the J-Hawks 16-14 at Kingston. In the season finale with Dubuque Senior, Jeff jumped out to a 14-0 advantage and never looked back in securing a 24-10 victory on Senior Night. The J-Hawks ended the season 4-5. Ironically, the Senior team it soundly defeated advanced to the 4A playoffs.


Catastrophe! A worldwide COVID-19 pandemic alongside a devastating “derecho" proved a double whammy to the hopes of the J-Hawks. The storm damaged the school building which was unable to finish repairs and admit students until January. Coupled with the virus, all learning was conducted from home online. The football team was prohibited from practicing or even meeting the first two weeks of the season. Madness. Shear and utter madness. Unprecedented. Never had a J-Hawk gridiron squad faced such an August challenge.

If ever there was a Jeff squad that needed the fundamentals-building of the preseason it was this one. The hope was to have as many teaching moments during spring and summer activities. “We knew we were going to be inexperienced,” Coach Buesing said. “Then we were delayed, then delayed again. With a young team, we lost a third of our planned preparation time before the first game.”

In addition, the pandemic caused IAHSAA officials to scrub all its scheduled games. And that was unfortunate because for the first time it had enacted a tiered system of play where teams with similar records and RPI over the previous three seasons would tangle in the majority of their games. It was a bold undertaking to attempt pitting competitive teams alongside each other. At the last minute, with all district schedules jettisoned, the now defunct MVC football league was forced to shelter skelter throw together an inter-league format.

The new opener pitted Jeff and longtime rival Wash. The Warriors returned experience and it showed thru on a shortened 10-day practice preseason. The final was all red, 55-0. In week two the J-Hawks played newly constructed Iowa City Liberty for the first time. The Lightning squeaked out a 7-3 nail biter. Week three’s opponent Kennedy shut down operations due to positive COVID testing. Improvising, No. 2 ranked SE Polk agreed to invade Kingston and left with a 69-13 win. The good news was the Rams presented a $5000 check to the CR Westside for derecho relief. A month later, they would go on to play in the 4A state title contest.

Next, the Wahawks from West Waterloo delivered a 45-14 haymaker which, in turn, led to an opponent no one could have predicted given a thousand guesses. When Iowa City West shutdown due to COVID, an impromptu trip to State Center to tangle with 2A power West Marshall ensued. The Trojans proved uncharitable hosts drubbing Jeff 46-6. They also later advanced to the quarterfinal round of the playoffs.

Old Valley foes Hempstead and Senior beat the J-Hawks in successive weeks, 54-16 and 45-7 respectively. The season ended in Ames with a rollercoaster loss to the Little Cyclones, 35-31.

A more detailed profile of Coach Chris Buesing
and his teams can be had by purchasing the book
“Fight, Team, Fight - The History of Cedar Rapids Jefferson Football”
by John Hegarty Jr.
268 pages, including 661 photos. $25
Email: FightTeamFight2020@yahoo.com
or call 319.551.8008


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