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2019 Game Reflections by John Hegarty
an Old Coaches' View from the Press-box

Nod to school history with the renewal of the River Dunking Coach Bath!

Click HERE to watch the quick video of
Coach Buesing get the best bath of his life!

Week 9
Jeff vs Dubuque Senior W - 24-10
    Behold, the result of serious attention applied to accomplishing a challenge correctly. Stripped to its bare, the J-Hawks not only defeated playoff bound Dubuque Senior, but in doing so conquered all self-doubt and uncertainty. They stood firm and united in one final time-of-trial…resolute and faithful to each other. The collective blue-brotherhood prevailed.
     With the memory of going-down-by-2-scores in the early going the week before, this time Jeff came out of the chute blazing. They jumped out to a 14-0 advantage and never looked back in securing a 24-10 victory on Senior Night.
     Quarterback Jacob Coyle hit brother Gabe on a 28 yard strike with 2:36 left in the first quarter. Jacob Thompson chipped in with a one yard dive early in the second. There would be no looking-back…the foot never left the accelerator. Late in the third, Jacob Cross nailed a 41 yard FG…his sixth, and longest of the season. Thompson removed all doubt when he capped the scoring with one more 1 yard plunge for the home team. On 48 rushing attempts the victorious J-Hawks cashed in near 300 yards…103 of them courtesy of Ezeki Leggins. Jacob Coyle added an even 100 while Thompson accounted for 71.
     One final time, the defense stood tall, relishing in violence and destruction. They held Senior’s prolific QB (averaging 228 yards passing per game) to just 24.
     And how about this stat- one penalty…one.
Jacob Thompson finished the regular season third in class in 4A in tackles. But consider this: The two individuals who placed ahead of him were on teams from DM North and SC West…both 0-9 teams. Ask yourself how much of the game their defense spent on the field compared to Thompson.. a two-way bulwark and master of collision. He must surely be included in any discussion of the finest linebackers to play for Jefferson… and that list is as distinguished as they come.
     Only one kicker in 4A concluded the season with more FG’s than Jacob Cross, that being Adam Wessels from Dubuque…and he played on the same field with Cross this night. Together they dazzled on behalf of special teams. Cross connecting from 41, Wessels from 44.
     As time goes by, and fall fades into winter, then yields to spring and summer 2020, remember the 2019 Jefferson football team and what they stood for.
     Only 6 teams from eastern Iowa qualified for the 4A playoffs, we played 5 of them. We were a 3-2 team at mid-season that drew votes from the media for a top-ten 4A ranking. But following a three game skid, fighting inner demons, anger and doubt (anyone would have) these J-Hawks entered their season finale pitted against a 5-3 unit desperately needing one more win to secure a playoff spot. But what remained for Jefferson to motivate them?
     The answer was pride and brotherhood. The answer also included honor and respect, with a healthy dose of the mantra- “Finish what you started, while breaking the tape sprinting 110%”. In short, earn the right to look back in the future, and for the remainder of your life honestly claim “no-regrets”.
     There are so many unsung heroes. A man once said the true test of a man (or team) is what they do when-no-one-is-watching. It would have been so tempting to listen and obey the devil on one shoulder, rather than heeding your better angels on the other. Yet this team was repeatedly positive, they did the right things regardless of adversity. They trusted their coaches, their leaders and each other.
     To the team I say: It was a sincere pleasure to watch your bravery, your spirited and determined courage, your nerve, your boldness, your strength in the face of pain or disappointment. By virtue of your 2019 involvement in football, and with this band of brothers, you will forever possess a sense of purpose when facing a future full of demanding situations.
     I heartily congratulate you for embracing “westside-toughness” and serving as inspiration for us all. 
Week 8
Jeff vs Dubuque Hempstead L - 14-16
    Dubuque Hempstead edged the J-Hawks 16-14 on a warm and windy night at Kingston. The first half was claimed by the Mustangs who scored twice on passes of 20 and 3 yards. If you are a Jefferson loyalist, preserve your sanity and please refrain from watching replays of the second TD pass on Hudl. If you are a Hempy fan, by all means, enjoy your good fortune, it is seldom accorded to visiting teams.
     Rather than wallow in a halftime sulk, or mope-“woe-is-me”, the J-Hawks regrouped and redoubled their efforts in deciding a 13-0 deficit was not insurmountable. In true west-side fashion, the comeback was on. Seniors Derik Bunten and Kenny Moore intercepted passes which the offense converted into scores. The first culminated in a one yard scamper by Ezeki Leggins. The second was a 32 yard pass from Jacob Coyle to Jacob Thompson. At that point the J-Hawks led for the first time in the game, 14-13, with the entire 4th quarter remaining.
     Hempstead responded kicking a 25 yard field goal with 2:53 remaining, leaving just enough time for the J-Hawks to score what could be the decisive TD or FG. Stymied at the DH 37, Jacob Cross attempted a 54 yard FG with 20 seconds remaining. It fell short when his plant foot slipped. A third loss in three weeks produced a searing sting in the gut of every player and coach. One game to go…What now? Read on.
     To the fans I say: Recognize the effort your boys displayed in coming back strong. In your own way, however you can, let them know you are proud of their pluck. Make sure they know you are behind them unconditionally. Encourage them to finish strong in their final game. Just as they will undoubtedly leave-it-all-on-the-field, so too, can you as fandom leave-it-all, cheering from the stands.
     To the players I say: Just as the size of someone’s paycheck does not always determine an employee’s worth…A scoreboard does not always provide the final analysis. As hard as it may be right now, try not to get caught up in the shadows of the moment. Turn your face to the light one more time. Keep your eyes firmly fixed on the broader perspective. The true test of a FB team is how it responds to adversity and disappointment. Winning? It is oh-so-easy…everyone can do it, effortlessly. Ultimate triumph in any walk of life is measured by harnessing the motivational power of heartbreak, and creating a plan for future preparations that ensure victory. Losers seek to place the blame on others. Winners live life looking through the windshield, not the rearview mirror. Seniors- you have one final chance to play the game you love…think of it as your “playoff-game”. Juniors- send the seniors out with a smile on their face…call it the win streak YOU started- 9 months early. Against Dubuque Senior- cherish each block, and every tackle. I promise, for the remainder of your life you will wish you could pad-up one more time, for just one play, and hit someone again.
Week 7
Jeff vs Cedar Rapids Prairie L - 19-46
     For the second week in a row, one of the best 4A teams in eastern Iowa sought absolution from the previous two weeks’ marginal effort. That team was Prairie, and they righted their ship at the expense of the J-Hawks winning 46-19. In the process, the Orange Hawks took home the inaugural “West-Side-Best-Side” trophy representing the Kolache Bowl.
     Prairie started the game as if shot out of a cannon, leading 33-0 after the first quarter. But after repeatedly being slugged to the canvas, the J-Hawks refused to curl up into the fetal position, outscoring Orange 19-13 in the final three quarters. Kenny Moore and Kastan Kolsto caught TD passes from Jacob Coyle. Gabe Coyle picked up a defensive TD with a scoop-and-score in the final stanza.
     Winners search for the seeds of victory in defeat. Let’s look for some perspective. Our 4 losses came at the hands of TOP teams who are all currently unblemished and lead their Districts in 4A. Each of them is already playoff bound, and along with Bettendorf, likely represent the top five teams in eastern Iowa.
     Consider the big picture and bear in mind, the possibility of a winning season can still be a reality.
     To the fans I say: You have been given a great gift. The final two games of the season are in the friendly confines of the Old-Grey-Lady…Kingston. Embrace the chilly weather and support your team by having all-the-fun-you-have-coming two more times this fall. Football Friday nights under the lights are meant to be fun. Bring your entire family, make as much noise as you can, wear your blue and white and enjoy the Band-O-Blue’s program. It is a long wait until next August!
     To the players I say: High school football teaches lessons of all kinds that serve young men well in their adulthood. You will surely encounter rocky stretches somewhere in the future where circumstances conspire to burden your load. How you will respond depends on having the wherewith-all, and the determination, to fight back against the odds. The last two games have left a sour taste in your mouths, spit it out, and resolve to finish the job you started. If you win-out, and finish 5-4, you will be remembered as one of the top 5 Jefferson football teams in the last 20 years! If you defeat your inner demons (we all have them) and doggedly persevere through less than two more weeks, the pride you will carry with you will indeed last a lifetime. It will also prove, come what may as an adult, you will have proven to yourself that no future challenge is insurmountable.

Ancient Asian Proverb: We all have inner demons. Anger, jealousy, fear and doubt. If one DOES NOT conquer them- the life of a 100 years is a tragedy. But if one does…the life of a single day is a triumph.

Week 6
Jeff vs Cedar Falls L - 0-28
   #2 Cedar Falls visited Kingston on Thursday and showed why they are the highest ranked team in Eastern Iowa. Final verdict: CF 28- Jeff 0. The J-Hawks couldn’t have encountered the Tigers at a worse point in the season. CF was coming off a head-scratching lackluster performance the previous week in the friendly confines of the UNI-Dome. Coach Brad Remmert tactfully said as much in his post game analysis, “We needed to be sharper this week. Last week taught us you have to play every play. I thought we learned a lot from that.”
    Man-oh-man did they ever.
    CF running back Ryan Ostrich recorded a punishing 192 yards on 32 carries for the tradition rich Tigers. That fact alone was evidence the J-Hawk defense rarely left the field all night. At halftime Jeff only had possession of the ball enough to run 14 plays. TOP (time of possession) was the stat-of-the-night. In a 48 minute game CF swallowed the ball for over 32 minutes!
    Unfortunately, Jeff trainer Suzi Guider was the unsung hero once again. Gazette sportswriter Jeff Johnson put it this way…Chris Buesing’s boys “were a beaten up bunch and not just on the scoreboard.” As for the aforementioned Jeff Coach, he didn’t mince words in his assessment, “It was a comedy of errors on our part, and they played really well. I was just disappointed with the way we responded. It’s not complicated, we didn’t defend tonight. Our defense never got a break.”
    Up next is the Kolache Bowl, the annual Jeff-Prairie battle for southwest-side-of-town bragging rights.
    To the fans I say: I heard you often from inside the sealed press box last Thursday. Well Done! Take a large contingent to John Wall Memorial Field this Friday. Proudly wear your Blue and White…and keep being vocal- the players hear you loud and clear.
    To the players: Winston Churchill once said, “Success is not final; failure is not fatal. It is the courage to continue that counts.” You don’t need an old coach with a lot of snow on the mountain to tell you- you are better than you showed last week. FLUSH that performance and get back to business. Prairie will attempt to out-physical you. Buckle down and get back to “West-Side-Tough”…that is your identity, don’t lose sight of who you are.
    2/3 of the season is behind us…what will become of the final third? This much is certain- A strong finish (in any life challenge) is sometimes painful, but ALWAYS glorious. Choose the pain of discipline over the pain of regret. The first is temporary, the second can last a lifetime.
Week 5
Jeff @ Waterloo West W - 31-21
    It is never easy going on the road, especially far out of town. But the lone excursion out of the metro area for the J-Hawks surely produced a happy bus ride back down 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. On a rain and lightning interrupted night, with victory hanging in the balance once again, the Boys-in-Blue reached out and secured the game in the fourth quarter.
    The defense swarmed and played at a high level of intensity recovering three Wahawk fumbles, one of which led to a 2nd quarter TD. The other two ended West High drives deep in Jefferson territory. But it was the vaunted triple option running of Jacob Coyle, Ezeki Leggins and Jacob Thompson that set the tone. On 59 carries they toted the rock for 285 yards.
     After the game, a relieved Coach Buesing reflected, “Waterloo, they’re a tough team. We always know we’ll get a tough game from them. I thought this was a really good high school football game. Against a physical team you play to win. The kids did a great job. I’m really proud of them.”
     The J-Hawks also got a 46 yard TD strike when Coyle hit Prosper Kapongo on a sideline GO route. Kicker Jacob Cross added to his sterling resume with a solid 35 yard FG and 4 successful PAT’s. It was the second year in a row the West Side J-HAWKS defeated the West Side WAHAWKS.
     Up next for the Big Blue Wrecking Crew is undefeated and number 2 ranked Cedar Falls on Thursday for the Jeff FB Hall of Fame Night. This year’s inductees are All State guard Bill Lahman ’66, and All State guard and kicker Dale Frank ’77. They will be honored between the sophomore and varsity games.
   To the fans I say: It’ll be good to get back home to the Old Grey Lady (Kingston). Show up in force to support your team. They are on a roll…the forecast is much more football-like. Get out those scarves and gloves; grab some hot chocolate and a blanket. Get rowdy and enjoy the ride at mid-season. You affect the game with your team spirit and vocal support!
     To the players I say: No one, absolutely no one living outside of the west side of town expects you to compete with CF. They are a fine tradition-rich team who will show up ready to play for 4 quarters. BUT, what a singular opportunity for you guys. This is your chance to shock District 3 and take the lead in chasing down a playoff bid. Let me ask you this- Why not us? If you outplay them for 48 minutes it will happen…and you know it.
     A tearful personal note: God welcomed His faithful servant Marilyn Ask into His loving arms on Sunday. Marilyn, and her husband Bob sat side by side at Kingston for J-Hawk games until just recently. God bless her precious memory. God bless the Ask family.
Week 4
Jeff @ Wash  W - 24-7
    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. 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 60’s. Reminded of their school history, current day J-Hawks used it as motivation and brought it back. Search around…there are many places video of Buesing’s baptism can be viewed.
     There was nothing easy about this win over a Warrior unit that came ready to play. In fact, Red carried a 7-3 lead into halftime with Blue’s only points coming off a Jacob Cross 29 yard field goal. It was a solid night for the J-Hawk defense who applied constant pressure to Wash’s veteran QB Henry Clymer. Nursing a slim 10-7 lead, an inspired 4th quarter goal line stand opened the flood gates for the west side, spurring the offense to seal-the-deal on a Jacob Coyle 54 yard touchdown scamper, and then a 15 yard scoring strike from QB Coyle to Ashton Schulte.
    “It means so much,” Jacob Coyle said. “This week was huge for us.” His relieved coach focused on the big picture, “I’m proud for them (the players). Proud for the westside of town. It's good to have a rivalry again. Now, it is competitive again. We’ve had close games in the past, but finally our side (of town) got a little bit. It’s about these two teams, these kids.”
     To the fans I say: Great job of “whiting-out” the visiting bleachers. Loved all the BEAT WASH shirts. The players knew you were there! Start making your plans for the only road trip out of town on Friday. It only takes an hour to get to Waterloo…find a way there. Talk it up- your support means more to this team than you can imagine.
     To the the players I say: Thank you for bringing a tear to the eye of many long suffering J-Hawk alumni. We so appreciate your nod to school history with the renewal of the River Dunking Coach Bath. Enjoy the hard fought win- but get right back to work Monday. West side mentality has always been- nose to the grindstone. In case you were unaware, most all the pundits in the press predicted you’d beat Wash. Now, imagine the fun of beating teams you aren’t supposed to.

Week 3
Linn-Mar @ Home L - 6-14
    It was Homecoming, but minus a king and queen, or the Band-O-Blue. It was a Thursday evening contest that oddly started at 5:00, but didn’t end until 9:00. It was in the low 90’s at kick-off, the humidity was stifling. Everyone knew, in the end, the weather would win. Yes, the affair with Linn Mar defied all normal convention. Nothing was in sync…on so many levels.
    What was expected? The hitting was hard, brutal to be honest. J-Hawk trainer Suzi Guider may well have earned the game ball for her heroics. It was a night when both defenses overshadowed their offense. There were turnovers and penalties, loads of punting, but very few trips to the red-zone for either team.
     The Lions struck first and nursed a slim 7-6 lead for the majority of the game. Ezeki Leggins broke free in the second quarter for a 23 yard scoring run, but the PAT kick was blocked. With 8 minutes remaining in the game, lightning and torrential rain halted the contest for 90 minutes. In the end, unlike last week, it was the visitors to Kingston who reached out and grabbed victory as it hung in the balance. Lions 14, J-Hawks 6.
     Jeff’s triple option attack was never able to secure its footing, and yet, with the ball in their hands, and very little time left in the game, there still remained a chance at forcing overtime. But give credit where it is due…the Linn Mar defense was relentless for 48 minutes.
     To the fans I say- Kudos to those who stuck out the delay in the Kingston tunnels or in your cars. (As well as those of you listening on KGYM or watching on cable access) Enjoy the Homecoming festivities, but the team needs your support next week against Washington. Show up in force and let the players know you are behind them 110%.
     To the players I say- Winners search for the seeds of victory in their defeats. With the Cedar River Rivalry trophy on the line this week, don’t let the LM loss beat you twice. Your challenges are many…adapt, improvise, overcome. Heed the oriental proverb- “Fall seven times. Stand up eight.” In the end, that is the wisdom you secure from the pain (and glory) of football. Wallop Wash!
Week 2
Muscatine @ Home W - 23-6
   Both Jacob Thompson and his coach are known for getting to the point. After a week 2 conquest of Muscatine Jake reflected, “Mental toughness is what it comes down to. We knew this game was one we needed to win.” With sour memories of a heartbreaking overtime loss last year to the Muskies, the J-Hawks removed all doubt this time around with a flurry of points in the fourth quarter, breaking a 6-6 stalemate. The final tally was 23-6 in favor of the Boys in Blue, but the final verdict was in jeopardy until Jefferson reached out and decisively snatched the victory during crunch time.
    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. Really proud of them and really happy for them.”
    In that crucial final stanza, a 9 yard touchdown run by Ezeki Leggins was immediately followed up with a 10 yard strike from Jacob Coyle to brother Gabe. Jacob Cross finished the scoring with a 38 yard field goal, his third of the game and fourth on the young season. It was yet another impressive display of kicking power, accuracy and consistency. His first three-pointer of the night was from 41 yards out. No doubt, Cross is a serious threat to erase Nick Rocha’s school record of 46 yards set in 2013.
    There is little time for the J-Hawks to pat themselves on the back as Linn Mar visits Kingston for a Thursday encounter. The Lions were soundly spanked by Kennedy in week two, 46-7.
    To the fans I say: Don’t play the comparative-score-game and assume simply because we gave the Cougars a tougher game in week 1 we will waltz against the Lions. They are a hungry scrappy team that will be out to prove they can rebound from a tough loss. Also, support the Jeff Booster Club by getting your snacks and treats from the J-Hawk-run concession stands. Mr. O’Connor and Mr. Jackson grill a mean burger and when the wind is out of the south I defy you to resist the smell that drifts in front of the press box.
     To the Players I say: Football is a game of motivation and momentum. Keep it going. Keep trusting your coaches and believing in yourselves. Whether you think-you-can or think-you-can’t…either way, you will be right. Outsiders may say Linn Mar is the favorite in this matchup. If so, it is time to beat someone we are not expected to. Do something against Lions you will fondly talk about the rest of your lives. Play in a manner that is a credit to your family, your school, but most importantly yourselves and your practice-mates. Go J-Hawk Gridders!

Week 1
Jeff @ Kennedy L - 10-21
    On an untypical crisp and cool August evening, the J-Hawks gave #9 ranked Kennedy more than they bargained for in a non-district opener on the first Friday of fall competition. After a scoreless first quarter, the boys in blue struck first-blood, when senior tailback Ezeki Leggins swept to his right and instinctively cut back against the grain of an over pursuing Cougar defense for a 36 yard touchdown scamper. Now stung, the highly respected guys in green responded and took a 14-7 lead at the intermission. Jacob Cross connected on a 23 yard field goal to supply the only J-Hawk scoring of the second half. The final was Kennedy 21-Jeff 10.
    But it was crystal clear to everyone watching, the final score does not tell the whole story. Cougar head coach had high praise for the opposition in his postgame comments to the press. "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."
    Breaking down the replay on Hudl, it is plain to see this offense is going to be dangerous. The full throttle option attack places the ball in a multitude of playmakers hands. Once in space, all of Jeff's backs and receivers are threats to take it to the house. Offensive coordinator Jermelle Lewis makes good use of every square inch on the field. Leggins, Jacob Thompson and Jacob
Coyle were the leading rushers for the west siders. Gabe Coyle was the leading receiver. Let me repeat: this offense is going to be dangerous. If the defense and special teams up-their-game to match it, good things are in store.
    Not one to embrace moral victories, Coach Buesing and his troops now focus their attention on Muscatine. The Muskies lost a close contest with Davenport Central 28-25, ensuring someone will pick up their first victory of the season at Kingston Stadium in week 2 of competition.
    To the Fans I say: Come out and support the team, AND the Band-o-Blue. Wear your Columbia blue proudly! It will be interesting to see what the always rocking student section uses as their "theme". Well done on last weeks safety orange and yellow!
    To the Players I say: Be the chief instrument of Muscatine's destruction. When victory hangs in the balance…reach out and GRAB it. Stay hungry Big Blue Wrecking Crew!!! This week the scoreboard lights up and rings like a pinball machine under HOME TEAM.



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