Let me start by saying I graduated from Dubuque Senior High School in 1994, so from the jump, this post will seem a little biased.

I spoke to a gentleman yesterday named Doug Woolf, who gave me a buzz to alert me of a special anniversary that's being celebrated this year during the Senior High School Homecoming festivities. It's been 50 years since the Rams won the football championship!

Doug was a part of the graduating class of 1972, who proudly played for the Rams football team as the #64 offensive guard during their amazing fall of 1971 season.

Bill Jantsch, who came from Wisconsin as a very successful high school coach, joined the team as a line coach in 1970 was promoted to head coach a short time later. (He also served as the activities coordinator for the Dubuque Community School District and later became the Athletic Director.

Before the championship season, Doug said the team was coached by Don Yokas and finished with a 4 and 5 record. There hadn't been a team that had won 4 games at a varsity level for quite some time.

I asked Doug what he remembered most about the 1971-1972 season and he said (besides the number one record by Rod Stewart, "Maggie May,") it was the "diversity" of their team.

He explained further that everyone on the team came from different backgrounds. Some kids had parents that were meatpackers for the Dubuque Packing Company. Some kids had parents in the medical field or the educational field. The team was made up of kids that came from white-collar, blue-collar, and grey-collar families.

I asked Doug when he knew it was going to be a special season and he said it had to be the second game of the season when the Rams played against Cedar Rapids-Washington. 

After being beaten in the first game of the season at Kingston Stadium in Cedar Rapids by Cedar Rapids-Kennedy, the Rams were now heading back down to take on another CR team that had dominated the Rams the previous two years... in the same stadium!

The Rams regrouped, reorganized, and rallied to beat their rivals by a score of 50 to 24 (after being down at half-time).

That win gave the team the energy and the momentum to have one of their greatest seasons in a long time.

The Rams led the conference offensively and defensively. The team's kicker, Chuck Costa, had some amazing moments between his kickoffs, field goals, and extra points.

Seven of the players from that Rams team were on first-team all-conference, giving them a dominant season, and Dubuque's first championship season since 1943.

As for his personal accomplishments that year, Dougs says he took great pride in being one of the team's tri-captains, but his favorite moment of the entire season was helping his teammates carry their coach, Bill Jantsch, off the field.

Bill Jantsch, Dubuque Senior High School Rams head coach being carried off the field.
Bill Jantsch, Dubuque Senior High School Rams head coach being carried off the field.

Since 1971, Dubuque Senior High School has yet to have another football championship team. Doug says while he's proud of his team's success, he and his other teammates still cheer on the Rams year after year.

After winning, I asked him what kind of fanfare the team experienced and he fondly remembers the school assembly the following Monday morning. He said the win gave the entire school a sense of pride and excitement that carried through the duration of the school year.

As for the celebration this week, Friday morning in Nora Gym there will be a pep assembly at 11 am, where the 1971 team will be recognized. He said a lot of the team will be in attendance and they're excited to cheer on the Rams that night for their Homecoming game against the Muscatine Muskies at 7 pm on Dalzell Field. In between the pep rally and game, there's talk of a Homecoming parade, too.

If you're going to the game, tickets are $5 for students and seniors and $6 for adults. (There are also concessions and apparel for sale!)

And, oh yeah, from what I understand the 1971 championship trophy still stands in the display case at Dubuque Senior High School for all to see.

The 1971 Championship Trophy.
The 1971 Championship Trophy.

~Chris Farber



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