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

The Dostal Years ~ 1991-1996


After serving nine years as Jefferson’s head football coach, exit Bill Calloway, enter 28-year-old Jim Dostal. Dostal’s resume as a player was impressive. He was a school record-setting all-state linebacker at Jefferson under Jack Fisk, and All-America honoree at Coe College. Dostal returned to his high school alma mater as a social studies teacher and began coaching duty as defensive coordinator under Bill Calloway. Like Calloway before him, Dostal brought youthful energy and charisma to the program. The debut was successful. With a 34-0 rout of Iowa City West, losers of 23 in a row, it was time to get down to business against the storied MVC programs. Prairie’s rock-ribbed defense made things more difficult in the second game. Knotted up at six points for each team after 48 minutes, the contest continued into overtime. Prairie grabbed the hard-fought win, 9-6.

The offensive baby-steps continued into week three against crosstown-rival Washington. Gazette sportswriter Jeff Dahn’s unflattering lead told the tale: “Most of the estimated 5000 prep football fans who witnessed Washington’s 21-6 win over Jefferson would agree it boiled down to the Warrior defense putting the clamps on Jeff’s impotent offense.”

Breakout wins over Dubuque Senior, 21-14, and highly-touted City High, 20-9, tempered the slow start, signaling improvement. Unfortunately, a decisive 22-12 loss to Dubuque Wahlert left the J-Hawks at 3-3 entering the home stretch. One step forward, one step back. Valley frontrunners Kennedy, Linn-Mar and Hempstead all awaited. Yet, the J-Hawks held destiny in their hands. Running the table would ensure a playoff spot.

In facing the No. 3 ranked Cougars, the J-Hawks were up against a juggernaut that was on a roll and ultimately would share the MVC crown with Linn-Mar. However, on this night blue bested green, 19-13, in an emotional and tightly-contested rivalry. Stalking even bigger game required confronting the king of the jungle next. Defending state champion Linn-Mar surely licked their chops following Jeff’s emotional JFK upset. As is so often the case, a big win proved hard to replicate against another top foe. The north-siders from Marion lived up to all expectations. Greg Purnell’s Lions cruised to a 33-18 win, disqualifying the J-Hawks from playoff consideration.

In a “pride-game” against Hempstead during the season finale, both teams mustered one touchdown. But in missing their PAT kick, Jefferson yielded, 7-6, concluding Dostal’s freshman season, 4-5. A playoff spot was oh, so close. The bottom line was in missing extra points during the overtime loss to Prairie, and then again week nine, the J-Hawks could potentially have earned 6-3 postseason qualification. Yet the fact remains, Jefferson’s stingy defense was statistically one of the best in the MVC.


1992 The second edition of “Collision Football” promised improvement, in large part, due to offseason weight room commitment and the ascendance of a strong senior class that had not lost a game as freshmen or sophomores. Defense would indeed rule. It would manufacture six shutouts, allow an average of 6.2 points per contest and allow less than 120 yards per game. Many west-side observers remarked the 1992 defense bore resemblance to the 1972 “lead-pipe” crew that won a state title. When the dust settled on the season, Jefferson’s defense was statistically tops in all of Class 4A. And for the first time since 1979, the blue and white would make a return trip to the state semifinals.

So dominant was the Collision defense, over the first four games only Regis could secure a touchdown. Wins over Dubuque Wahlert, 7-0, Regis, 21-8, East Waterloo, 7-0, and Washington, 27-0, served as evidence the J-Hawks possessed a near impenetrable blockade to the end zone. The ’93 J-Hawks earned notoriety for extreme physicality. They were often accused by the opposition of playing excessively ornery and brutally mean. After an early game in Waterloo, East High officials lodged protests with Jefferson’s administration— and the IAHSAA—claiming the J-Hawks were unduly savage in their manner of play. Dostal rightfully responded, “We teach enthusiasm, and that will never change. It’s not intimidation, it’s being excited about playing the game. If you can’t get excited, maybe we’re in the wrong game.”

Success against Cedar Falls, 21-14, and Prairie, 13-0, set the table for a big showdown with an old foe that had produced heated skirmishes at the lower levels. Unbeaten going into week seven, and scored upon by only two teams, the J-Hawks would be severely tested at Frank Bates Field against Larry Brown’s Little Hawks, and future Hawkeye and NFL standout Tim Dwight.

The Red and White scored three touchdowns on that crisp October evening in winning 21-14. But those who witnessed the clash of corridor titans felt they had witnessed two of the top 4A teams in Iowa tussle, with the strong possibility of an impending rematch in the playoffs.

Finishing the regular season with two more wins launched the team into the postseason for the first time since the end of Jack Fisk’s career. Jeff defeated pesky Kennedy, 7-0, and stubborn Iowa City West, 27-0.

On to the playoffs and what was hoped would be a long run towards the UNI-Dome. A hard-fought 13-12 win over Kennedy in round one was mildly disappointing as Jeff’s vaunted defense yielded two touchdowns in the rematch. However, a one-point advantage was enough to move on to the quarterfinals. It was the second time in ten days the Cougars and J-Hawks had locked horns.
Yet another MVC foe lay in wait in the second round, this time the roadblock was tenth-ranked, 9-1, Linn-Mar. Greg Purnell’s Lions were playoff regulars and expected to advance, just as they had on their way to the last five quarterfinals in a row. The outcome yielded a more comfortable result for Jefferson, winning 21-7. Eliminating their final Valley foe cleared the battlefield debris for a semifinal road trip to Touvelle Stadium in Bettendorf. Note: only state championship games were contested in the UNI-Dome during this era. And so it came to pass, on a frigid Saturday afternoon in mid-November, the struggle for eastern Iowa supremacy came down to the Bulldog irresistible force meeting the J-Hawk immoveable object.

Jeff Dahn, sportswriter for the Gazette, concisely summed up the outcome, “The record will show that Bettendorf beat Jefferson 14-0, but Coach Jim Dostal thinks it was the J-Hawks who beat themselves.” He then quoted the Jeff skipper, “We don’t like losing, but we definitely beat ourselves. It wasn’t the Bulldogs, we beat ourselves.”

The Bulldogs scored twice on short fields, courtesy of seven Jeff turnovers. Dostal reflected, “We don’t have anything to be ashamed of. We played them better than anyone else all year. Making the mistakes where we made them is what cost us.”


A new group of seniors— unbeaten as sophomores— assumed command of the master controls. Joining them was a junior class that finished 7-2 in capturing an MVC divisional title. The J-Hawks clearly understood five of their nine opponents had qualified for the playoffs the previous year.

The first three games were tightly contested losses. Dubuque Wahlert stunned the J-Hawks in the season opener, scoring 27 first-half points before Jeff could respond. The 27-14 setback involved only one returning starter from the previous year. Weeks two and three witnessed close losses to a brutally-physical outfit from Regis, 14-8, and an athletic East Waterloo club, 7-6. It felt as if getting in the win column was within reach, seemingly the J-Hawks were inches from success. But then, for a multitude of reasons, the wheels fell off. Within the moat we call the Cedar River neutral zone Warrior sharks were circling, and they smelled blue blood in the water.

During the annual grudge match against Washington, not only was the J-Hawk offense unable to score, the defense gave up six touchdowns. The 41-0 beatdown nearly invoked the 50-point mercy rule for the first time in school history. It was look in the mirror time, and a road trip to the UNI-Dome offered little hope of righting the ship against a storied Cedar Falls program. However, with its back to the wall, the J-Hawk defense shut out the Tigers. Jeff quarterback Chad Bosch rallied the offense for a late score in securing a 6-0 win. Defeating the Tigers on their home carpet is always an accomplishment, but it was to be the only victory of the 1993 season.

After the feel-good indoor win, the annual battle for all the Czech kolaches followed. Prairie head coach Craig Jelinek and defensive coordinator Mike Trosky, both Jeff grads, had their Hawk team ready for a physical brawl. It was another knockdown drag-out affair, with southwest side bragging rights on the line. As feared, Jelinek’s troops delivered the most punishment as the P-Hawks prevailed, 18-8.

Two of the most dangerous teams in eastern Iowa could not have been scheduled for a worse time in Jefferson’s nightmare season. On successive weeks, both City High and Kennedy drilled the J-Hawks invoking the new rule. 56-0, and, 56-6, respectively. Week nine offered little consolation as the rising program at West High of Iowa City ended the Jefferson season with a 48-8 drubbing. In total, the J-Hawks were outscored 178-22 in their final four games. The proud school had endured one-win seasons before. The first four seasons of the institution’s existence produced but one win each, 1957-1960.

In the 1994 Jefferson yearbook a philosophical Jim Dostal was quoted following the frustrating season: “This is just a reflection of life. There will be good years and bad years. The individual must have the character to continue, not only in the game, but in any event, without quitting.”


1994 Jefferson football’s fourth season under the direction of Coe and Jefferson Football Halls of Fame player Jim Dostal began with high hopes. As the first game approached, the head J-Hawk proclaimed his troops, “Ready, willing and able to return to the winning ways of 1992. The guys have a real good attitude, and morale is a big part of being successful. Last year didn’t go as well as we had hoped, but we’ve told the guys its up to them to improve. They are the ones who will make it happen.”

The opener, against a rapidly ascending Iowa City West program, witnessed the J-Hawk offense score three touchdowns, but surrender seven to a Trojan team hungry for their first playoff appearance in the history of the school. The final verdict was in favor of West High, 48-22. The crosstown Warriors were merciless in a 50-0 week two drubbing, and the skid was on, again. No. 2 ranked Linn-Mar hung 45 on the board in week three, cruising 45-14, and then Kennedy feasted, winning 38-14, in game four.

Regrouping, during the mid-season week five game, the J-Hawks actually led Dubuque Senior at halftime, and yet were nipped in the fourth quarter, 21-13. The second half of the season was a repeat of the first. Regis manhandled the boys in blue, 42-7. After the week seven 35-0 loss at Prairie, Dostal confided to Gazette reporter Jeff Dahn, “We made mistakes. We’re a little thin right now, having been beaten up through the season. The kids are still working hard.”

A tight loss to lowly West Waterloo, 12-8, offered the hope of a second winnable game, but the J-Hawks let it slip away late. One final drubbing at the hands of Cedar Falls, 47-14, mercifully ended the season, winless over nine contests. It was the first time in school history a J-Hawk varsity squad finished 0-9. In total, the team was outscored 384-91. At season end, Dostal bravely reflected, “You never like to lose. You go week to week and hope you’re helping some young people with their lives. We kept a positive attitude. The kids tried to get better every week. I respect their effort and mental approach. We’re going to have to work real hard in the offseason, but we look forward to a better showing next year.”


1995 New season, new uniforms. Jim Dostal and staff decided a return to the navy blue and white garb worn so successfully during the Fisk era would produce some good mojo. It was unfortunate the season opener once again pitted Jefferson against the hottest upward-trending team in the state, West High of Iowa City. At Trojan Field, the contest was halted shortly after halftime. Even after pounding the J-Hawks, 56-0, few would have guessed Reese Morgan’s troops would go on to become the 4A state champions twelve weeks later!

After tight losses to Wash, 20-13, and always tough Linn-Mar, 35-27, Coach Dostal was encouraged, “We’re getting better. It’s like being in the desert. I never thought we’d go this long without rain, but you just keep walking.”

The Kennedy and Senior games produced further losses, 25-8, and, 41-27, respectively. Still, the J-Hawks were somewhat competitive. But then the offensive wheels all fell off. Regis took full advantage of their tough-nosed defense in smothering the downtrodden, 17-0. After a bruising week seven loss to Prairie, 26-0, put yourself in the coach’s shoes. What do you tell the eager-for-a-quote press? Rather than duck reporters, the head J-Hawk found words, “We are just going to keep on trying. We have a lot of young kids showing a lot of courage.”

Even so, the J-Hawks were blanked in the final two games. Winless West Waterloo found the win column, 12-0, while Cedar Falls squeaked by Jeff in the finale, 7-0. The numbers clearly told the story. Back-to-back 0-9 seasons. The J-Hawks were shut out in five of nine games, including the last four in a row.


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 Jim Dostal
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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