CEDAR FALLS, Ia. — At some point, Dowling Catholic football will not be the state champion. The Maroons will not win the final game of the season here at the UNI-Dome. They will not add another golden trophy to the unprecedented collection currently sitting inside a glass case at 1400 Buffalo Road in West Des Moines. They will not lord over Iowa’s largest football class.
Someday that will happen, and when it does, the other 41 teams in Class 4A will breathe easy and sleep easier, knowing that it is, in fact, possible. That Tom Wilson’s mighty Maroons can be defeated. That Goliath can fall.
That’s what history says, at least, but Iowa’s long and storied football history has never seen a football team like Dowling Catholic. The Maroons have carved out a spot all their own now, piling up touchdowns and wins and titles like no team ever before.
Dowling won the 4A state championship on Friday night. The Maroons are the first Iowa football team ever to win seven straight state titles, and their latest one looked like this: 21 unanswered points from the star running back and senior quarterback and a mean defensive effort to turn a 10-0 second-quarter deficit into a 21-16 win over crosstown rival West Des Moines Valley.
“As a young coach, I dreamed of one,” said Wilson, Dowling’s coach, who now sits second all-time with eight state titles, trailing only Harlan’s Curt Bladt (11). “To think of something like this is unbelievable. These kids are part of history now.”
The Tigers claimed a 10-0 lead, thanks to a couple of interceptions from Drew Jirak and a 79-yard touchdown by junior receiver Matthew Mahoney. But then Dowling rolled up 230 rushing yards, including 141 and two touchdowns from Gavin Williams. The defense forced three turnovers, including two with less than five minutes to play.
The celebration began when senior Adam Brauch intercepted Valley’s Braeden Katcher with 70 ticks left. It commenced in full after the clock hit all zeroes. Dowling helmets flew and voices roared and tears rolled down their cheeks. They stormed toward their peers and looked at each other as if to make sure it was real.
It was, and it will be forever.
“I think it started when we were in sixth grade,” said Brauch. “It’s just surreal. It hasn’t hit me yet.”