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Column

UNI-Dome has some local flavor

When I asked former PCM football coach and athletic director Brian Hazelton about Monroe graduate Tom Wilson, Hazelton tells the story of the first time he knew Wilson was going to be special.

“I once got kicked out of a game against Pleasantville once,” Hazelton said. “Tommy was a volunteer assistant coach for me at the time. I told him he had the offense. And we went first down, first down, first down, touchdown. I knew he had something at that point.”

Wilson is one of three current head football coaches in the state of Iowa who have ties to PCM in some way that will play in the state semifinals at the UNI-Dome later this week.

Wilson will coach the Dowling Catholic Maroons against Ankeny for a shot at the program’s eighth straight Class 4A title.

PCM head football coach Greg Bonnett gets his second shot at the state semifinals when the Mustangs face Waukon on Saturday night at the UNI-Dome in Cedar Falls.

In Class A, Drew Clevenger is back in the state semifinals with the Saint Ansgar Saints.

Hazelton coached all three players in some capacity. And he has something to say about each of them.

“His attention to detail is just so awesome,” Hazelton said about Bonnett, who took over for him as the school’s athletic director. “He’s got the high technology now that we didn’t have back when he played, and he knows how to use it.”

Hazelton remembers a specific story about Clevenger, too.

“He played quarterback through his sophomore season, but we needed a left guard and he changed positions his junior year and didn’t bat an eye,” Hazelton said.

The three coaches go about their coaching business in similar ways. All three direct hard-nosed programs who rely on toughness and stout defense.

Bonnett and Wilson have shown they will do just about anything offensively to win games.

Clevenger’s system is mostly run-based. But Hazelton assures that it’s not boring.

“Drew has fine tuned a running program. The options he’s got in a run game are unbelievable,” Hazelton said. “We talked once after a tough loss and he questioned whether or not he needed to pass it more. I told him he was doing just fine with that running game because he can do so many things with it.”

The rushing numbers Clevenger has put together in his time as Saint Ansgar’s head coach are impressive.

His offenses have rushed for 4,000 or more yards four times and he’s had six seasons where his team has scored 430 or more points in a season.

In his time at Saint Ansgar, 10 players have gained 2,000 or more yards, 14 times his offense has averaged six or more yards per carry in a season and 20 players have gained at least 1,000 rushing yards in a season.

Saint Ansgar is searching for its second state championship under Clevenger and Bonnett is trying to guide the Mustangs to a second state title in the last three seasons.

Wilson is well ahead of both of them as Dowling has won eight titles total and seven in a row during Wilson’s tenure.

One of those state titles came with Bonnett on Wilson’s staff as an assistant coach.

My first memory of Bonnett when I returned to Jasper County about five years ago was when I saw him in the stands at a PCM basketball game in November watching Dowling play in the 4A state title game on his computer.

“It’s one of those places that leaves a mark on you,” Bonnett said. “People either love or hate Dowling. If you walk around talking about how much you love Dowling you are an enemy to most people. I think that is OK because if you are a team that everybody wants to play and never accuses you of anything chances are your team is not very good. People don’t get how much commitment and thought goes into that program. They think it’s just all recruiting and that’s absolute garbage.”

Bonnett and the Mustangs play in the final semifinal game in the state of Iowa when Class 2A No. 3 PCM (10-0) faces fifth-ranked Waukon (8-1) at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday.

The other two teams play on Friday. Class A second-ranked Saint Ansgar (10-0) faces third-ranked Iowa City Regina (9-1) at 9 a.m. on Friday.

In the late game of the day, second-ranked Ankeny (9-1) faces third-ranked Dowling Catholic (8-1) at 7:30 p.m. on Friday.

Ankeny knocked out Prairie City native Scott Carlson and his fifth-ranked Waukee Warriors in the quarterfinals.

Contact Troy Hyde at thyde@shawmedia.com

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