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

The Calloway Years ~ 1982-1990


After serving 16 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 Sheriff for two years in Cedar Falls. He then joined Wally Sheets at Cedar Rapids Washington as the Warrior offensive coordinator from 1974 to 1979. Bill also served as head boys track coach, winning a state title with the Warriors in 1977.

The Calloway era opened within the friendly confines of Kingston Stadium against a Waterloo East team with a stable of running backs who were ready to do more than foxtrot. The final verdict favored the Trojans 21-13.

A second loss, this one to visiting Hempstead, 28-0, left the new coach 0-2 with the early portion of his goodwill tour expired. A 22-8 breakout win at City High eased the slow start. It was one step forward, one step back when the following week the J-Hawks dropped a 14-7 slugfest at home to lowly Dubuque Senior. It was the first win by a Rams team in its last 13 games.

The pendulum swung back again with a 21-14 victory over Ottumwa. The road win offered hope for a good showing against east-side rival Washington who came into the game rated in the top 10. Wash’s offense frolicked in a 41-8 win over a porous Jeff defense. It was the Warriors’ seventh win, dating back to 1977. Calloway would need to wait four more seasons to defeat Wash.

On the road, Jeff bounced back in taking Wahlert down to the wire. The 20-12 loss signaled a strong finish to the season was possible. The setback left the J-Hawks 2-5 entering the home stretch.

Calloway’s option offense found its footing and erupted on Kennedy, winning 21-7. One game remained. Which J-Hawk team would show up before passing in the hymnals? The Trojans had shined offensively, but were league cellar dwellers on defense. Senior field general Steve Wise capped his prep career with three touchdown passes ending Jefferson’s season with a 35-22 win over West High. The J-Hawks finished 4-5 in Calloway’s rookie year. It was Jefferson’s first losing season dating back to 1960.


The second edition of Calloway’s “Big Blue Wrecking Crew” promised improvement, in large part, due to offseason weight room commitment. Waterloo East, as they so often did over the previous decade, provided a formidable opening-round opponent. At Sloane Wallace Stadium, the Trojans rolled, 35-14, amassing well over 500 yards of offense in a game that was never close. A week two trip to Dubuque proved no better as playoff bound Hempstead frolicked, 43-7.

Before the home opener at Kingston, Calloway was asked about the mood of his team in preparing for No. 2 ranked City High. “I just have to believe we’re much better than what we’ve shown” he said. Iowa City High bested Jeff, 20-12, but the underdog J-Hawks put on a 14-point final quarter flurry to make things interesting.

On the road once again, in Dubuque for the second time in two weeks, the J-Hawk offense could not find first gear against the Senior Rams. Senior prevailed, 16-6. Through no fault of their own, midseason disappointment occurred for the J-Hawks when previously scheduled week-five opponent Ottumwa was kept from fulfilling its contract at the last minute due to a sudden affiliation with a newly formed conference. Athletic Director George Hidinger was unable to find any unattached opposition. The disappointing forfeiture left the J-Hawks idle, and with an eight-game regular season.

During the second half of the season, one play often decided the outcome of contests. Such was the case in the Washington game. Neither team was ranked, neither had a chance of making the playoffs. Together they had lost seven straight games. In handing a late safety to their rival, the J-Hawks yielded, 8-6.

Entering the Kennedy game, newly appointed Cougar coach Al Stiers admitted, “Jefferson is the best winless team in the state.” Stiers had done his homework. Jeff came out and gave one of the top teams in the MVC all it could handle. The J-Hawks did everything but find the end zone. Surrendering a late touchdown run by Kennedy, the final was 7-0 in favor of Green.

Winless, entering the final game against 0-8 Iowa City West, the J-Hawk offense exploded for 42 points to drub the hapless Trojans, 42-7, producing the lone victory of the 1-7 campaign.


After the disappointment of a one-win season, and with so many starting underclassmen returning for their senior campaign, the offseason push towards Calloway’s Tri-Power weight room program intensified. It helped when 19 of 22 starting positions were claimed by scrappy and ornery seniors who were hungry.

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 “new blue” succumbed, 14-7, to their recent I-380 nemesis, Waterloo East. Down, but no where near out, his troops rebounded with a week-two shocker over perennial power Hempstead, 21-6. The Jeff defense held the Mustangs to 25 net yards in the second half.

A week three rendezvous with City High at Bates Field turned Jefferson’s way on a Mark Tiedtke 30-yard field goal. The J-Hawks slipped by the Little Hawks, 17-14. Jeff streaked to 3-0 in the MVC the following Friday, besting Dubuque Senior 22-6. For the first time in the history of J-Hawk football, the wishbone running attack was unveiled by Bill Calloway. Weeks five and six proved a potential playoff undoing when the J-Hawks lost hard fought battles to a non-conference foe, Linn-Mar, 14-6, and intercity rival Washington, 21-8.

At 3-3, Jeff needed to run the table in the final three games, and hope for a little outside help, in order to qualify for one of the four eastern 4A post-season slots. And win-out the J-Hawks did. Wahlert’s Golden Eagles grudgingly yielded, 21-13, in Dubuque. Back home the following week, Jeff readied for Kennedy. They faced a Cougar unit that was reeling. Two weeks earlier, their starting quarterback abruptly transferred to Jefferson, now aiding the J-Hawks against his former teammates. Gazette sports editor Mark Dukes kicked off his article detailing the 42-0 Jefferson romp with a nod to history: “A brilliant defense that recorded 10 quarterback sacks paved the way to Jefferson’s most lopsided football victory ever Friday night over Kennedy.”

In what was the final game of the season, a surging bunch of J-Hawks, met a downtrodden Iowa City West club that was winless and looking to be put out of its misery. The 42-0 verdict reveals they were indeed. New Trojan coach, Dan Dickel, a former NFL player, knew his business. Before the Jeff game he paused to assess the opposition. “Jefferson is the ideal team to look at in terms of their strength,” he said. “Their conditioning program in the offseason is what we’re going to attempt to do.”

But inclusion in the post-season was not to be. MVC champion Wash was automatically “in.” While sporting a usually reliable 6-3 record, the J-Hawks were left “out.”


Bill Calloway’s nifty Veer Option offense would no longer take anyone by surprise. But the schedule was daunting. A rugged opener at East Waterloo was expected, and the Trojans delivered in handing the J-Hawks a 20-0 setback at Sloane Wallace Field.

Highly-ranked Hempstead took the week two clash, dealing Jeff a 21-6 setback. And things got no easier in week three when the J-Hawks confronted another ranked team, this one from the east side of Iowa City. But the Little Hawks snatched a 26-20 victory, in overtime, crushing the hopes of a Jeff upset.
The final verdict at Dalzell Field, against Senior, was 30-14 as the visiting J-Hawks finally picked up their first win in week four. They didn’t know it at the time, but the following week Jeff would tangle with the eventual state champion, Linn-Mar. The Lions pounced, winning 44-16.

Next up was the No. 1 ranked team in the 4A polls, crosstown rival Washington. Blue drew first blood courtesy of a 73-yard scamper by Randy Meier. But it was all Red after that. The Warriors cruised to a 34-13 win. In reality, the J-Hawks had just played the two best teams in the state, back-to-back, although it would not be confirmed until the playoffs.

With their heads surely spinning, a winnable game was on deck in visiting Wahlert. Seldom is a 28-6 game decided on just two consecutive plays, but sadly, it was when the Golden Eagles snatched the rug out from under the home team. Two games remained against evenly-matched Kennedy and league-doormat Iowa City West.

Al Hall of the Gazette penned this lead: “Jefferson’s J-Hawks haven’t won much this season, but looked like anything but quitters in rallying past stubborn Kennedy, 20-13. Randy Meier’s nifty 14-yard touchdown run with 30 seconds left was the game winner.” Jeff polished off the beleaguered West High Trojans, 34-14, and the 1985 record finished at 3-6 after starting 1-6.


It was never easy playing football in the rugged Mississippi Valley Conference. And never more so than the year 1986. Bill Calloway, and staff, looked at their schedule, which included four preseason top-10 ranked teams, in addition to defending state champion Linn-Mar. It was a supreme challenge to be sure.
The opening game of any season is always key, but even more so this time around. Waterloo East was the opponent for a fifth year in a row. The Trojans had sent the J-Hawks to 0-1 in each of the last four campaigns. This year East began the season ranked No. 7 in the polls. Another donnybrook ensued, but this time blue and white came out on top, 34-26.

Entering week two, it was the J-Hawks who were ranked in the top 10— for the first and only time during the Calloway era. But success was short lived when the Wahlert Golden Eagles dampened Jeff spirits with a 14-7 overtime victory on the road at Dalzell Field. There was no time to mope or feel sorry, a trip to No. 3 ranked Bettendorf awaited. The defense shut out the Bulldogs and the J-Hawks earned a hard-fought 6-2 win. The game was contested on a slimy Touvelle Stadium turf that offered no footing. A double overtime loss the following week at Hempstead, 16-13, continued the roller coaster season. Then it was on to No. 5 Linn-Mar, the defending state champion. A 21-7 loss to the Lions proved no disgrace. Linn-Mar would again rally to participate in the state championship game in weeks to come.

Thirty-year 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. In suffering a 7-0 loss to Prairie, the team showed no quit. They would be ready for Kennedy in week eight. Jeff prevailed, 16-3.

After the Kennedy victory, the players understood there were no guarantees of a ninth game. Left out of postseason consideration, Jeff officials had to scramble to find a week nine opponent. If they were unable, the season was over after only eight games. Dubuque Senior obliged Jeff, and themselves, with an impromptu road finale. The scoreboard lights were extinguished for the season one final time reading Home 15 and Visitor 26. The J-Hawks finished with two solid wins for a commendable 5-4 season.


Strong offseason commitment to the weight room and the return of four husky interior linemen rendered high expectations going into the new season. Starting the ’87 campaign at Dalzell Field against Dubuque Senior, the J-Hawks led 14-11 after three quarters, but were unable to deliver. Senior prevailed, 18-14.

New Wahlert coach Tom Kopatich, after guiding the LaSalle Lancers to back-to-back state titles in 2A, and spending three successful seasons at 3A Davenport Assumption, was ready to accept the 4A challenge. His Golden Eagles topped the J-Hawks 29-15. Illinois power, Rock Island, visited Kingston Stadium in week three. The Rocks rolled, and gathered no moss in besting Jeff, 21-7, on the strength of big play-making ability and speed.

Imagine the mindset of any winless team going into a week four game against 3-0 and No. 1 ranked Hempstead, in Dubuque. On paper, it was a classic mismatch. But it was also high school football, played by 17 and 18-year-olds. In a result that sent shockwaves around the state, Jefferson upset the Mustangs, 15-14, for a season-defining victory against all odds. The J-Hawks would not sneak up on No. 5 Linn-Mar the following Friday, and there were five big reasons— the five burly offensive linemen upfront for the Lions. The contest was even, 14-14, entering the third quarter, but Linn-Mar took control for the remainder of the game, winning, 26-14.

It didn’t get any easier when No. 2 Washington made it three top-ten ranked teams in a murderer’s row on the Jeff schedule. The Warriors slipped by, 25-14. The battle for southwest side bragging rights awaited at John Wall Memorial Field. The visitors in blue turned the ball over seven times to a swarming orange defense. The J-Hawks lost four fumbles and were intercepted three times. Prairie won handily, courtesy of Jefferson’s generosity, 26-8.

Squatting at 1-6, it was gut-check time with games remaining against Kennedy and City High. The Big Blue Wrecking Crew came off the canvas, beginning with a haymaker to the unsuspecting Cougars, winning 29-7. In the season finale at Frank Bates Field, home of City High, Jeff found themselves down 14-0 at half before coming off the canvas to stun the Little Hawks, 29-20. The J-Hawks turned in their gear winners of three games, losers of six. It is of interest the J-Hawks finished sixth in the MVC while the five teams above them all qualified for the playoffs.


The memory of starting 0-3 the previous year weighed heavily on the minds of the returning lettermen, as did being the highest-placing MVC team to be excluded from the postseason. 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 matches during week nine, with non-qualifiers responsible for finding their own impromptu final opponent.

Week one held a rematch with Hempstead. The same Mustang team which had been ranked No. 1 in week four the previous season, only to be bushwhacked 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.” In a seesaw game, when the dust settled, Jefferson prevailed, 28-20.

Entering the battle for all the kolaches, the J-Hawks were wary of a Prairie team that kept them from the playoff field a year before. The blue and white defense rose to the occasion shutting out the Hawks, 6-0. Next up, was another emotional tilt with the boys from JFK. Kennedy spoiled the short-lived streak in nipping their crosstown rival 13-12. It was the first Cougar win over Jeff in five years.

Rebounding with a hard fought 27-25 win over Senior on the road, 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, a rash of injuries took its toll.The training room was bursting at the seams, resembling an episode of M*A*S*H.

For the week five match up with Washington, the J-Hawks were minus three starting offensive linemen, their senior signal caller and one key running back. But there was no holding back the boys in blue. “It was one of those evenings when everything came together for us,” Calloway mused. “But winning 36-0? Who knew? We didn’t plan on winning by that margin.

The feel-good Wash win set the stage for what would be remembered as one of the most entertaining games of the ’88 season, the struggle with Linn-Mar. The Lions were ready. Jefferson thought they were as well, until four fumbles allowed the visitors from the north side of Marion to squeak out a 27-20 win.

Smarting physically, but also from a confidence standpoint, the offense was reeling, with the defense following suit. The result was a 32-0 shellacking courtesy of undefeated, and soon-to-be MVC champion, Iowa City High. Staggering at 4-3, with three games remaining, it was time to get healthy and hopefully earn a coveted playoff spot that had proven so elusive in previous years.

Jeff easily sidelined hapless Iowa City West, 49-20, as junior back Ed Threatt— recovering from a dislocated thumb— ran wild garnering 156 yards and four touchdowns. He was joined in the mauling by Mike Stucker— back from a foot injury— who tallied 112 yards and one touchdown. Pressed into emergency duty, sophomore quarterback B.J. Calloway (the coach’s son) skillfully guided the wishbone attack at the varsity level for the first time.

At 5-3, with one game remaining, everyone knew it was a must-win game against a formidable foe, Dubuque Wahlert.” The Golden Eagles were top 10 ranked, but also smarting from an unexpected loss to Prairie the week before. They came to Kingston angry, and methodically sidelined the J-Hawks, 32-12. Finishing 1988 with a respectable 5-4 record, but losing four of their last five, was extremely frustrating for all involved. In the second half of the season, MVP honors could have gone to trainer Fred Buchanan and team doctor Alan Robb. 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 a second year in a row.


During each of the previous two seasons, Jefferson was the highest placing MVC team to not qualify for the playoffs. The opener was against always-sturdy Hempstead. In three of the last four seasons the J-Hawks had bested the Mustangs— something few in the MVC could boast. This go round, Hall of Fame coach Bob Timmerman unleashed his Stangs on the boys in blue and left the field with a 34-6 drubbing, and a measure of revenge.

Week two on the schedule promised a stiff challenge against one of the best defenses in the state in Prairie. The Hawks were breaking in a new coach with Jefferson ties. Craig Jelinek, a 1970 Jeff Football Hall of Famer, successfully faced down his alma mater for the first time. A 25-0 shut out of the J-Hawks ensued, and the goose egg left Jeff offensive coaches scratching their heads in search of answers. Only one touchdown had been registered in two games. The solution, of course, was a secret return to the wishbone formation for a week three matchup with Kennedy. But, the result was a third loss. The J-Hawks yielded to the Cougars, 42-36.

In week four, Dubuque Senior brought a 1-2 mark to town and had shown a penchant for yielding big plays. The J-Hawks snapped their Homecoming losing string, winning 27-25. On to Washington. The table was set for a classic matchup between old rivals, both of whom had recently shown flashes of brilliance. Breaking a decade long trend, Jeff had won two of the last three meetings. Both offense and defense showed up against the Warriors. Ed Threatt-and-company amassed a stunning 428 yard ground attack in the 26-7 Jeff victory.


The state’s best defense lay in wait against No. 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 into double overtime before bowing, 36-30. Jeff led 22-15 at half, but did not score again until the first overtime. If only the team could have known at that point Greg Purnell’s soon-to-be undefeated Lions would go all the way in winning the 1989 state championship!

Now 2-4, Calloway’s troops saw all playoff chances evaporate. Whatever their record, it was crystal clear, with three games remaining, the Jefferson offense was feeling its oats. In actuarial terms, the team was not yet mathematically eliminated from the post season. Win-out, and anything was possible. The J-Hawks mojo kept on rising as they readied for City High.

Blue turned away City High, 27-20. Then Iowa City West came to town. The J-Hawks had never lost to the Trojans in 14 meetings. Threatt went over the 1000 yard rushing mark in sparking blue to a 35-7 cakewalk. The bread-and-butter combination of Threatt and Shaft Baker made it a festive home finale for 26 J-Hawk seniors. Threatt surpassed Steve Harkness’ single-season rushng school mark of 977 yards, set in 1977. He also broke the career rushing record of 1694 yards, also belonging to Harkness.

Calloway’s most prolific offense to date finished with a nip and tuck, 29-27, win at Wahlert, a team that eliminated them from playoff contention in week nine the year before. At 5-4 the J-Hawks placed fourth in the MVC behind Linn-Mar, Hempstead and a City High squad 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 postseason bubble when it burst.


J-Hawk football team. You won your first three games and were riding high, only to lose four straight. Now you are charged with preparing all week for the defending state champion, undefeated Linn-Mar. No one knew it at the time, but the Lions would repeat in ’90, going back-to-back, a few weeks hence. No team they would face from hereon, including during the entire playoff run, would hold them to less than four touchdowns per game. That is how good Greg Purnell’s 1990 Linn-Mar unit was.

As it was for all Lion foes, Jeff was helpless to prevent a red and black offensive tsunami. Linn Mar cruised, 53-19 on the backs of their impenetrable defense, and the M&M boys, Jason Maloy and Mick Mulherin. Consider this fact: over 13 games on their way to the ’90 state championship, only City High prevented the Lions from scoring less than four times in a game during their magnificent undefeated season.

No one, save his wife and perhaps the varsity staff, knew the season finale at Dubuque Hempstead would be Bill Calloway’s final game as a football coach. For Calloway, hanging up the whistle was bittersweet. After nine seasons, and a record of 35-45, he announced his resignation shortly 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 a playoff system where 16 qualify. A lot of people measure success by only winning, but there are so many higher planes to measure. Bill’s a community-minded person. He means an awful lot in many ways.”

Calloway revealed, “I really came close to resigning a year ago. The staff encouraged me to stay on. I never had any pressure to step down. In coaching, there will always be negative people, 9-0 or 0-9. That’s part of it, and I understand that. I would have liked to be state champs nine years in a row. Through the years I got to work with a lot of great kids. Hopefully I taught them the importance of hard work.”

Today, Calloway holds the singular distinction of being the only individual inducted into the Washington and Jefferson Athletic Halls of Fame. That, is a singular achievement that may never be equalled.1996 The J-Hawk losing streak had now reached 22 games, dating back to 1993. But seriously, there was reason for optimism. Starting the season with tradition-rich Linn-Mar would be a challenge in any year. But Greg Purnell’s troops were coming off a disappointing 3-6 campaign, and desperately seeking redemption. They earned a small measure of it in the opener, defeating the J-Hawks, 31-20.

For the team from the west side, there was more offensive dormancy, shut down on the scoreboard, 78-0 over the next two weeks. The clampdown was courtesy of the Warriors from across the Cedar River, 36-0, and defending state champion Iowa City West, 42-0. A week four matchup with green rival Kennedy was made more interesting when it was revealed Cougar coach Don Knock would sit out the contest, having been suspended for two games by school district officials. Without a head coach on the opposing sideline, the dam finally burst for a group of run-happy J-Hawks in a joyous 26-7 victory that ended “the streak”.

In the next two weeks, the J-Hawk offense was shut down, yet again, by Cedar Falls, 26-0, and eventual state champion City High, 40-0. Long-suffering Jim Dostal saw a bigger picture, “Its a matter of attitude. You can’t be happy with just one win. You have to go out and win two, three, four…we have to learn its just one week.”

After a road loss at West Waterloo, 42-6, and then a week eight setback at home to Hempstead,13-0. The week nine battle for southwest side supremacy turned Prairie’s way early, in yet another shutout, 22-0. There was no playoff berth on the line for either team, but wide grins were again seen on the faces of Craig Jelinek’s Orange Hawks.

Jim Dostal resigned the first week of January 1997 citing philosophical differences with the school district, tersely saying, “We did the best we could under the situation we were given. I’ll let someone else try.” The statement announcing his resignation said Dostal was quitting “for professional reasons and opportunities.” His six-year Jefferson record was 16-41.

A more detailed profile of Coach Bill Calloway
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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