HAWARDEN, Iowa | Ryan Schwiesow never lets his team go into a game unprepared.
Just how ready he was to soak up what had turned into a life's pursuit for the West Sioux football coach is something only he knows, but to the people that know him best, the Falcons' Class A state championship -- the school's first football title -- will have a big and lasting impact.
"I think it meant the world to him,” said defensive coordinator Jose Garcia, of Schwiesow, who is a member of the West Sioux Hall of Fame as a standout multi-sport athlete with the Falcons. “We talked about it when we first came in and that was our ultimate goal to win a title for the town because most of our assistants graduated from West Sioux.”
“The community support and what it meant to every single person here, people that played in the 50s and 60s. Jose shared a story of someone at home crying because of how proud they were of West Sioux and Hawarden,” West Sioux offensive coordinator Jerome Hoegh said. “Ryan played here with his brother. The pride he has knowing his dad played here, I can’t imagine what it meant to him to bring more pride to a community that already has so much.”
Schwiesow, a 1992 West Sioux graduate and head coach for five years, guided the Falcons through a perfect 13-0 season capping it with a 35-14 victory over Hudson in the championship game to help him earn the Sioux City Journal's Coach of the Year honor.
"You can't work harder than that guy in preparing," West Sioux athletic director Ben Bouza said. "He told me a little quip once that Abraham Lincoln is famous for saying 'If I had an hour to cut down a tree, I would spend 55 minutes sharpening my axe.' He really lives that.”
“He treats every game like it is a championship game and brings a level of intensity to practice and film and even the weight room in the offseason that is pretty impressive,” Hoegh said. “He will get on the best kids for the simplest things, and I think that sets the tone for the rest of the players and the coaches to be doing the little things correctly.”
He spent time as an assistant coach with the Falcons and even started up the youth football program in Hawarden. Schwiesow’s fingerprints are all over the program, but he also puts plenty of faith in his assistants.
“He does a really good job of letting us do our thing and leads us in the right direction in the way he wants things done,” said Garcia, who played for the Falcons when Schwiesow was the team’s defensive coordinator. “When he was the defensive coordinator he was a little more fiery than he is now. His work ethic has always been there and when I was there he wanted his players to know everything.
“I remember days we would watch film and when he played he was a linebacker so he would have days with just linebackers watching film with them so we would understand what or reads were.”
This title is a product of years of work for Schwiesow and the Falcons, who reached the second round of the playoffs in 2014 followed by back-to-back setbacks in the quarterfinals before claiming the title.
Schwiesow, who has a 45-12 record, uses the game as a way to prepare his players for things beyond the football field.
"He does a great job of being a role model for those kids as far as work ethic and expectations," Bouza said. "That idea that if you work hard good things happen, and he lives that every day in what he shows the kids he does."
Schwiesow pushed his players to be their best and through their hard work they all got to share in a memory that will last a lifetime.
"It is the end of the beginning," Bouza said. "This is a culmination of everything we have done, but this isn't it because it has given us a taste for success. It has shown these kids that they are capable, that they are able to be the best in the state."