Wapsie Experience (12/14/17)

Ken Donnelly · Tuesday, December 12, 2017
This will be the third and last part of the 87-year history of Homecoming at West Liberty High School.

A fun fact before we begin: The Comets’ homecoming record from 1931 to 2017 is 58 wins, 28 losses and 7 ties, for a success rate of 67 percent.

Their most frequent rival has been Durant for 16 games; our guys won 11 of those games! West Branch has come to town 13 times and the Comets won 8 games! Tipton has been a lose in 3 of 4 homecoming games.


WL 16 Durant 12

The queen was Lynn Porter and the king was Scott Brooke. Reached in rural Cedar County, King Scott recalled nothing special about the evening.

A new head coach, Dave Holdiman, spoke at the pep rally. The Comets were undefeated going into the homecoming game.

Jim Kiwala had 12 carries for 187 yards gained, and he also received seven passes for a total of 126 yards. Scott Harmon led the defense with 9 tackles, 10 assists, one sack and a forced fumble. The Comets amassed 401 yards in offense.

The Des Moines Register, at one point in the season, ranked the Comets number 7 in the state.


WL 12 Wilton 6 in overtime

The queen was Wendy Swenka and the king was Mark Heckman. King Mark recalled that this victorious evening was, “rainy, foggy and miserable.” When I asked him if he kissed the always beautiful Queen Wendy he replied, “No, Jay would have beat me up if I did.” One day she would be the mother of three very good Comet football players.

John Lozano was the workhorse this year with 101 rushing yards on 21 carries. His average was 4.8 per carry. Randy Heick picked up a Durant fumble and ran 56 yards to score.

The second half was rainy and filled with fumbles from both squads. The game was saved for the home team by a 6-yard Lozano touchdown in the overtime.

At the pep rally, preceding the game, the ever popular "Mom Squad" was brought back by popular demand. Mark Heckman was "Mr. Legs". Brand new this year was a "Miss Legs" competition won by Robyn Gauger.


WL 34

Clear Creek Amana 0

The queen this year Tommie Petersen, daughter of King Jim. Her king was Scott Kordick.

The evening turned out to be most unusual as the game was halted due to lightening. The teams were re-united the following Monday and played the last 11:56 of the 4th quarter. In no way did the three day rest improve the performance of the Clear Creek Amana Clippers from Johnson County.

The dance was in the gymnasium and Queen Tomika remembers that the score of the game was prominently displayed on a cloth curtain, though not a final score.


WL 12 Solon 8

The king was Mike Oostendorp and the queen was Carol McCrabb this year. The two students with the best legs were Sonya Jensen and Phil Krueger.

Among the theme days were: "Beach" Day; "Punk" Day and "Toga" Day. All danced to the music of "The Buzzards" at the Saturday night dance.

The Comets managed more than twice the yardage of the Spartans, but penalties and other mistakes made the game close. Oostendorp was the leading rusher with 141 yards. Cox was "the man" on defense as he had five solo tackles and five assists as well as four sacks and one fumble recovery!


WL 57 Durant 0

The royalty this year were Karen Zimmerman, daughter of Queen Betty who reigned 33 years previously. Her partner was King Bob Pelzer. Friday the queen was heard to say: "It was a complete shock to me, but it was really exciting.”

As an update, an early morning phone call to Karen revealed that her dad, Lyle Zimmerman, drove her onto the field at halftime in a Model-T Ford. This fall, 2017, a proud grandpa Lyle Zimmerman drove his granddaughter in a convertible in the homecoming parade. Karen said she got no kiss from her king and kindergarten chum Bob Pelzer.

Given the final score, you shouldn't be surprised that the starting offensive and defensive teams sat out the second half. The local men racked up 536 yards of offense. King Bob also won the "Mr. Legs" contest as did Brenda Trent win "Ms Legs." Bob's prize was a six pack of pop, NAIR hair remover and a pair of nylons!


WL 7 Mt Vernon 34

"The Comets were blown away by Mt Vernon… on the last play of the game, Heckman reached the end zone from 12 yards out to prevent a homecoming shutout."

Queen Shelley Buysse and King Trey Wedel presided over the weekend. The Blue and White spoke of the traditional homecoming kiss" (Cousin Emily Ruess Daufeldt told me her kiss from Aaron Strumpel appeared on the front page of the Muscatine Journal!) Other royalty didn't remember any kiss. Jim Petersen said he kissed his queen. Two new themes for the week: "Inside-Outside" Day and "Nerd" Day.  Jeff Koenig "Mr."Legs" and Emily Cline "Miss" Legs.

Long-time high school counselor, Howard Harmon, reflecting on 25-years of homecoming thought that in 1960 the homecoming week was more important to the students. To be in the homecoming court was considered a great honor, now in 1985 students don't care that much.


WL 8 Mid-Prairie 6

An error surfaced in the October 2, 1986 issue of the Blue and White; the first homecoming according to the student writer was in 1937. Readers of this column will know that it was 1931! Rodger Johnston was there!

In this same issue, there was one bit of information that I have long wondered about which was written about: "Now to the year 1938. The high school finally received a name for the football team on November 16th (and other athletic programs): the Blue Comets." The title was thought of by the now unknown "Jeffers.”

NOTE: Readers: please write to the Index if you know who "Jeffers" was.

The queen was Tami Chown and King Jose Revelez. Jose was also chosen "Mr. Legs. The Index spoke of the pep rally and "Bon Fire" in the gym! The cold and rainy weather caused the cancellation of the parade and the other festivities.

Final score: Comets 8 Mid Prairie 6. John Oostendorf carried the ball 20 times for 100 yards. Jon Brennan scored the only touchdown with a 2 point PAT on a Brennan pass to Mike Koenig. The local team held the ball for 2/3rds of the game or 65 of 107 plays.


WL 13 Durant 12

The queen was Sue Feldman and the king was John Oostendorf. The headline read: "Cardiac Comets rack up another victory." The team earned this moniker as this was the third one-point win a row!

Down 12-0 at the half, we scored on the first two possessions of the second half. John Oostendorf and Jon Brennan supplied the two TD's. The win gave the Comets a 6-0 record.

This year Bonnie Riggan wrote an editorial on floats: "A day off school is not my idea of being punished for trouble caused last year during homecoming week." She wrote further: "I must say I was disappointed in the senior float. Because of the connotations it represented, it was disqualified. I don't think it is necessary to relate everything to a


Can any of my readers call me and tell me what was the controversial message on the class of 1988 senior float thirty years ago?


WL 41 Tipton 22

It was a high-scoring homecoming. The king was Bill Lovetinsky and the queen was Tracie Drayfahl.

King Lovetinsky as a Blue-White staff writer echoed Bonnie Riggan from the previous year: "Now we are being punished by being taken out of class for an entire day to build floats."

Steve McIntosh was "Mr. Legs" He received a six pack of pop and a pair of panty hose. Daily themes during Homecoming week included: "Shades Day", "Backwards Day", Inside-Out Day", "Trash Day"and "Blue and White Day".

It should be noted that the six Comet touchdowns were scored by Joe Burnett, Bill Lovetinsky and no less than FOUR by Tom Bowie!


WL 17 Durant 8

The queen was Marcie Willier and the king was Josh Petersen. A new theme day was introduced: "Toga Day". (Do you suppose John Belushi had anything to do with it?)

For a third year they're still building floats during a school day, after school would have been this teacher's choice! Bad weather intervened and the pep rally was held outdoors on a cold and windy night. Pete Koenig offered the parent's response and Joe Cardona and Dusty Werling spoke for the football team.

Johnathan Schlinga, the international exchange student kicked three field goals of 38, 32 and 22 yards to win the game. He had never played football until he came to West Liberty!


WL 10 Tipton 21

The queen was Nikki Beaver and the King was Tim Buysse. This year was a homecoming heart-breaker: Tipton 21 West Liberty 10.

A favorite West Liberty High School staff member of mine, Cecilia Bjork retired after working 25 years at the high school office. She had assembled a Homecoming button collection over the years. (Why don't we have such buttons anymore?)

Tim Buysse had 16 tackles and assists and Jesus Escebedo had 11. Four Comet passes were intercepted. The team rushed for a total of 89 yards. Coach Kuhl lamented: "we had chances within the 15-yard line twice, we just couldn't get it in.” Coach Riley added: "too many turnovers, we gave up the big plays...we just couldn't move the ball on offense."


WL 8 Solon 42

West Liberty high school’s queen was Chari Connell with Eric Christensen as King. A quarter century later they are among my special neighbors in the very special Elder Ridge neighborhood; an area developed by the queen's uncle.

The Blue-White wrote: "Turnovers, mistakes made for a long homecoming game." Writer, Chad Ervin penned: "Homecoming fizzled last Friday as the Comets got blown out of the water." There were three interceptions and five lost fumbles.

Coach Kuhl summed it up: "they came ready to play and we didn't." The lone Comet touchdown came on a pass from Chad Ervin to Brandon Mills.


WL 8 Solon 26

Queen was Kim Drayfahl and King,Robert Armey. My friend, Brad Akers, was "Mr. Legs" and he once told me this honor was a "life-changing" event.

Our team had 245 yards total offense. A 67-yard run by Armey was the Comets only score. Solon was ranked number two in the state coming into the contest.

Joining the Comet coaching staff this year was Rob Black, today one of Atalissa"s outstanding citizens, and a three-year Comet quarterback and defensive back in years past.


WL 39 Camanche 7

"Comets Scalp Indians in Homecoming Win." The queen was Jackie Jensen and the king was Matt Guinn.

The local young men rolled up 392 yards of total offense against an ineffective Indian defense.

This year, West Liberty High School won the Eastern Iowa Hawkeye Conference Sportsmanship trophy. This was the 6th time in 8 years that our community won the award according to Principal Tom O'Toole. Kermit Petersen scored four touchdowns in the massacre on runs of 45, 17, 3 and 1 yards.


WL 27 Davis County 13.

The queen was Miranda Black and the king was Steve Wilson.

Andy Buysee, Shane Kaalberg and two touchdowns by James Laughlin provided 18 points and Gabe Ruelas kicked three extra points. The Blue and White headlined the game:" Comets decapitate Davis County"


WL 14 Ottumwa 28

This year it was King Aaron Strumpel and Queen Emily Ruess. Emily was destined to become the queen as both of her parents, Dan and Cindy, were of royal blood in the 1960's.

The game between the Comets and the Ottumwa Bulldogs was a big one as both teams were undefeated and both had been highly ranked early in the season.

Bryan Daufeldt rushed for 67 yards and Brad Guinn caught a pass of a 44 yard play for our scores. Coach Kuhl summed it up: "We played hard, we just got beat. They were a little bigger and faster than us."


WL 12 Wilton 14

The queen was Emily Jensen and the king was Adam Poock. An Index writer described the game as one of yellow flags. West Liberty had 130 yards in penalties and Wilton 55! Shane Simon and Bryan Daufeldt scored the two touchdowns for the home team. According to Kuhl: "We beat ourselves. We turned over the ball too much."


WL 49 Clear Creek 12

Bobby Joe Heick was voted queen and Mario Cardona king.

An angry editorial in the Blue and White was written by Lili Probst. "For over 50 years, WLHS students have gathered around a bonfire after the Homecoming pep rally, and this year? Well, our high school principal was ‘just saying NO.’ And for what reason? Because students don't do anything worthwhile around it.”

“So go ahead and break tradition, the tradition that our parents, teachers and community have followed for years,” she added.

As for the game, our highly successful quarterback was cousin Matt Carter. Touchdowns were scored by Caleb Shield, Jerry Kruse' two by Justin Wainwright and three by Nick Heath. I might add that Justin was also perfect on 7 for 7 extra points.


WL 20 Durant-Bennett 0

Melissa Barnhart was elected queen and Ivan Escobedo the king of the senior class. This special Friday night it was 38 degrees and pouring rain! A night of Comet domination.

A humorous senior float in the parade featured Coy Broders in a bathtub portrayed as a Durant football player, being washed out. At the pep rally senior football players, the Poms and Mr. Kevin McGuire did a hilarious dance routine. McGuire it was said, did the splits in the air!

The homecoming dance went off well: "Mr. Huenermann only used his flashlight once to check up on a couple of students!"


WL 21 West Burlington Notre Dame 14

The queen was Carla Trevizo and king was Eric Baker. The pep rally highlighted the West Liberty Senior football players in sleeveless T-shirts waving pom-poms to the Village People's "YMCA"

Earlier in the week Monday had been "Pajama Day and Keith Pearl won the prize for the best costume. Later in the week it was "Opposite Sex Day" and one of our football coaches was a winner!

There was a most successful auction of senior football jerseys. A record $2319.00 was raised for the Booster Club. Caleb Shield's jersey went for $375.00. If you bought it, you could wear it during the game. Feathers were scattered on Memorial Field to show what the Comets were going to do to the visiting Falcons.

As for the game; West Burlington was held without any passing yardage at all, only their ground game! Caleb Shield rushed for 144 yards thanks to a dominating offensive line.

"Mr. Legs" was Roger Elizondo. The homecoming dance rocked to the music of disc jockey, Jerrod McMichael.


WL 7 Williamsburg 21

The year Jerra Brooke was the queen while Jay Simon was king.

This time our young men came up short. Williamsburg had 8 penalties compared to just one 5-yard penalty for the home team. My neighbor, Todd Morrison was the star with eleven tackles.

Two new "days" emerged this year. Monday was "Opposite Sex Day" and Tuesday "Twin Day". (I guess the phrase "boys will be boys was now changed to "boys will be girls" and vice-versa!


WL 20 Wilton 6

For queen the students chose Elizabeth Allen and for king T.C. Heath. The King was quoted as saying "it was a pleasant surprise, I knew it was going to be close."

There were new floats this year that included parents of the football team and the American Legion. One student entry featured the theme "Comet Cemetery: Bury the Beavers!

Going into the game, the Comets were ranked number six in the state. There was no

scoring by either team in the 1st and 4th quarters. The Comets got on the board with an 80 yard Justin Simon run and a Fridley to Heath pass, and finally an 11 yard run by Mick Feldman.


WL 24

Highland-Lone Tree 6

The queen was Kayla Jackson and the king was Robert Linnell, who also won the "Mr. Legs" competition.

Designated Spirit Week days were new: Monday "Favorite Movie Character Day"; Tuesday "Favorite Historic Decade Day"; Wednesday "Farmer-Cowboy Day"; Thursday Trash Day".

Jeff Brooke with 10 tackles and Ruben Galvan with 8 performed well. Touchdowns by Mark McHugh, Nick Feldman with Maximo Lara supplying PATS. !Vamonos al Baile! finished a victorious weekend.


WL 47 Mid-Prairie 37

Jessica Brown was queen and Angel Montelongo was king.

The contest was a scoring battle! Jake Meyers, today a John Deere executive, carried the ball 29 times for 192 yards rushing. He was later honored by the local Rotary club with an award at season's end.

Present day banker and disappointed LA Dodger fan, Miguel Silva was "Mr. Legs" with Jenifer Davis as "Ms Legs".

For the first time, Powder-Puff football was introduced with fifty young women signed up with several games played during this special week. Male cheerleaders performed on the sidelines.


WL 37

Highland-Lone Tree 6

Future Notre Dame grad, Tim Campbell was chosen as king and Krystle Rivera by his side as queen.

Not even a downpour could stop the Comets. Again, Jake Meyers provided the impetus for a big win. He rolled up 264 yards on the ground in 36 attempts. The Index gave him just praise as follows: "Once Meyers stepped on the field it was pretty much over for the Raiders. And it was!"


WL 28 Durant 21

Reigning were Queen Courtney Aber and King Calvin Kivi.

For the first time there was a Grand Marshal for the Homecoming parade. Ms Carol Clark, in her 29th year of teaching, was so honored.

Behind 21-15 at half-time, the home team scored 13 unanswered points in the second half. Zach Beasley had an electrifying 87-yard TD run; later a pass from Austin Hochstedler to Beasley for 43-yards produced another; then Hochstedler to Rocky Sidaxoth for 52-yards; and finally, Zach Brooke plunged one-yard into the end zone. Rocky Sidaxoth kicked four PATS.


WL 7 Central Dewitt 28

The queen was Roxana Sanchez and the king was Cody Warson. There was also a new homecoming rival in Central Dewitt.

In the 21st century, a new tradition was begun; running the game ball from the visitor's hometown to West Liberty. This year it was an 58 mile trek, the longest so far.

Cody Hudson caught a pass for a 51-yard TD run and our only score. Rushing it was 281 versus 73 yards in favor of DeWitt.

Rain forced Thursday"s pep rally inside the high school gym. Quoting the Index: "The senior Moms provided the shocker to the crowd when they turned their backs and revealed boxer shorts with a Comet message." Index headline: "Was it a full moon?"


WL 19

Clear Creek Amana 14

The queen Ruby Gonzalez and the king was Omar Martinez (Ruby still lives in town and I see her and her three well-behaved children often at Casey's Crossroads).

The game's hero was Ramiro Ortiz with 100 yards rushing and a touchdown. Coach Joe Donovan declared: I've been very pleased with the defense. Ethan Yoder and Matt Pelzer played really well at corner back and safety and Justin Meyers and Kasey Wiele worked really well."


WL 31 Camanche 7

Nora Sanchez was queen and Paul Sanchez was king (I don't know if they were related or not, definitely not husband and wife!).

Over the years, the Blue and White has reported on dozens and dozens of funny themes used on floats, a striking one this year was on the freshman float: 'RELAX, IT'S JUST CAMANCHE!"

Mason Garcia had a great running game that night and led the offense. The Comets rolled up 380 total yards. Max Hons had a great throwing night; Mason Garcia, a good running night; and Adrian Rocha, a good defensive night.


WL 29 Tipton 13

Elected queen was Ilsa Garcia while the king was Ivan Sagastume.

Star players this night were Adrian Moran, Korey Wiele, Johnathon Lopez and

Eric Mc Killip. Credit Rocha with 14 tackles and Wiele with 11. McKillip scampered for 78 yards on 10 carries Over-all the Comets caused four Tiger interceptions and forced two fumbles.


WL 35 Tipton 7

This year the queen was Hannah Vance and the King was Alex Roman. Oh yeah, the Tipton Tigers again proved to be toothless!

At the game, our team supported a positive cause by wearing pink socks and arm sleeves to show their support for the fight against breast cancer (contrast this effort with a National Football League player who wore pigs on his socks to downgrade American policemen.)

The local lads rolled up 402 yards during this night of dominance. Korey Wiele had 10 solo tackles and seven assists for the home team.


WL 31 Wilton 65

The high school chose Queen Alicia Rocha and King Chase Hamilton.

A week before this big home game, the Comets had ruined Durant's homecoming 67-0. (Note, it is common knowledge that school athletic directors try to schedule opponents for their school's homecoming that can almost assure a win. Do you think the Wildcats mis-calculated?)

The Comets were 0-2 with the Pedersen family this season with a loss to "Butch" and his Bears and now Lance and the Beavers.

My dear neighbor, Josie Garcia Gingerich, struck a blow for all that is right and good when she wrote an Index Letter to the Editor, a portion of it follows:

"What is most disturbing about Friday night's game is the language that was being used on the opposing team's sidelines and bleachers...No, it was not the everyday swear words, it was racial slurs...Do these people realize how foolish they look?"


WL 56

Columbus Junction 22

The queen was Hayley Simon and the king was Israel Montelongo.

Tyler Newsom threw 13/18 passes for 182 yards and three touchdowns. Nick Boehme carried the ball 15 times for 128 yards.Raudel Fierro kicked 8 of 8 PATS and 9 kickoffs for 493 yards.


WL 31 Central Lee 28

WLHS presented Queen Rebecca Heckman and King Roberto Torres. The two cross-country teams delivered the game ball from Central Lee.

At the pep rally future University of Chicago scholar Elliott Henderson spoke well: "We may not have state titles in football, but we have state titles in a band of brotherhood."

Heick scored what proved to be the winning touchdown. Coach Slife later observed: "When you turn the ball over four times, it's not like they're stopping us; we're stopping ourselves. Yet we won.”


WL 7 West Burlington 28

The queen was Molly Kelly and king was Joel Fernandez. From the king: "It feels exhilarating to represent my school, it just feels great." He hardly had time to put the crown on before hugs knocked it off his head. Joel said the best thing about WLHS was our "great teachers."

"Homecoming Hardships for the Comets" was the headline. Quarterback Cooper Koenig completed 13/26 passes for 103 yards. Joe Baker and Chris Mc Michael ran the ball really well.


WL 14 Louisa-Muscatine 7

The queen was Vivian Ramirez and the king was Jose Molina.

"West Liberty Football Snaps the Streak" announces the Index. The Comets had lost 17 games in a row, going back to October 11, 2013.

"We knew we had the talent to get it done!" said Josh Walshire. Teammate Evan Dalton said: "But the entire team, especially the senior class, has shown up to practice, ready to work even harder and do whatever it take to finally get that win and snapping that long losing streak at home and homecoming makes it ever more special for us and the entire community."


WL 35 Mediapolis 14

The queen was Haddie Anderson and the king was Sergio Sanchez. This was the first time in eight years we had beaten the Bulldogs. Seth Feldman passed 7/11 for 59 yards; Joe Baker had 14 carries for 53 yards. Andres Garcia-Vargas was 5 of 5 on PATS.


WL 36 Anamosa 14

Our 87th year of homecoming with Queen Sara Maurer and King Andy Lopez! Back in 1931, our first ever opponent had been Anamosa and the two teams battled to a scoreless tie!

Coach Gus Garcia was honored for 30 years of football coaching. I hope the hundreds of young men Gus has coached realize what a big star he was from 1970-73 for West Liberty High School!

Well, I am tired as I have attended 87 Homecomings! The Comets never played Iowa City Regina in a single one of those special games; a wise decision some might say!

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