SIOUX CITY | When Roger Jansen left Heelan in 2015 he said there was only one place he would leave it for. Tuesday morning Jansen made the decision to return to the only place he would ever consider leaving Morningside College for.
Jansen was announced as Heelan's new head football coach -- his third stint leading the Crusaders -- Tuesday after three seasons as the Mustangs' defensive line coach.
"When I left Heelan there was only one place that I would go and there is only one place that got me away from there," said Jansen, a 1985 Morningside graduate.
Jansen is returning to his alma mater after previously leading the Crusaders in 1997 and from 2000-2014.
"I think a lot of it is I had a gut feeling and there is some people that kind of felt me out about what it would take to come back," he said. "Being around it for so long you don't really realize how bad you miss something until you get away from it."
Jansen brings a career record of 157-31 at Heelan to go along with state championships in 2008 and 2013. He also led the Crusaders to runner-up finishes in 2007, 2010, 2012 and 2014. Fifteen of his 16 teams qualified for Iowa’s state playoffs.
Jansen said the timetable was about a week from the time he first started talking to Heelan about the job until he made the decision Tuesday morning. Part of his decision hinged on former coach Jerry Steffen, who took over for Jansen three seasons ago, remaining on the staff.
"I can't thank Jerry enough for the three years he did here," Jansen said. "It was a huge sacrifice for him to step aside and let me take this on and do this. A lot of my decision hinged on if he did step aside that he would be the defensive coordinator. He has been a valuable asset on the staff at Heelan High School and he is a big part of this."
"First of all I want to thank Jerry Steffen for his three years as head coach," said Heelan athletic director Jason Pratt in a release. "His teams were successful and will continue to be a great asset to our program and school as defensive coordinator, which he was for almost 25-plus years before becoming head coach.
"Roger was great for us before, and given the last three years he served under a great coach in Steve Ryan at Morningside College, we anticipate him being even better than before."
Steffen had a three-year record of 21-8 with two trips to the playoffs that both ended with first-round losses.
Jansen said he learned a lot about the X's and O's of football during his time at Morningside and will look to apply that added knowledge to a Crusaders team that returns several key pieces but must replace standout running back Saybein Clark.
Jansen said he wants to give the Heelan football players the same opportunities and experiences he enjoyed, but the end result is up to them.
"I met with the kids (Tuesday) and shared some of my thoughts," he said. "We have a plan and a road map that has a good track record. They have to buy into this and it takes hard work and won't be easy. It is in their hands."