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SIOUX CITY – The end zone is never too far away from the Stampede Thundering ahead, Sioux City’s outdoor semi-pro football team is striving and succeeding in putting an entertaining product on the field.

The team, now playing on the artificial surface at Memorial Field, blasted a team ostensibly out of Collegeville (Minn.), 92-0 in its opening contest.

The outmanned visitors, “The 14 Blocks of Granite (City)’’ shall we say, disintegrated into powder. The vanquished suited up only 14 players serving as cannon fodder.

It was closer Saturday when the Stampede nicked a team from Kansas City 29-28.

Sioux City is going first class in the semi-pro game. Flashy uniforms, capable staff and top-notch playing venue.

The last powerhouse Iowa semi-pro football team with almost international credentials was the Newton Nite-Hawks in the late 1970s. Wearing discarded University of Iowa uniforms, the team competed in a rugged Chicago league and actually played five games in Europe in the summer of 1977.

The Nite Hawks, co-founded by the inventor of indoor football in the United States, Jim Foster, became the first American football team (pro or semi-pro) to play in Europe.

One that got away

Developing premier linemen out of Iowa high schools, especially, has long been a University of Iowa football trademark.

Over the years beginning in the Hayden Fry era, the National Football League has had a bushel barrel full of offensive and defensive linemen.

But, the Hawkeyes have lost a four-star prospect from out of state with ties to an in-state legend.

Nebraska recruiting tentacles have reached into Colorado to land 6-foot-6, 255-pound defensive end Tate Wildeman from Parker, Colorado

Wildeman’s father, Parker, was an outstanding three-sport athlete at Cherokee High School, culminating in 1990 when he was accorded the prestigious Siouxland Male Athlete of the Year Award bestowed by the Sioux City Journal.

Pop Wildeman a 6-2, 265-pound nose tackle at Iowa, was a Class 2A heavyweight state wrestling champ , state placer as a shot-putter in track and a first-team all-starter in football.

As a Hawkeye senior he was featured on the program cover of Iowa’s Senior Day game with Central Michigan along with fellow co-captains Harold Jasper, John Hartlieb and Ryan Terry.

Several Hawkeye O-lineman who have wound up the NFL were developed by Kirk Ferentz, who succeeded Fry.

Ferentz, by the way, wasn’t on legendary Coach Hayden Fry’s staff when Parker Wildeman was a senior and Hawkeye co-captain in 1994.

Ferentz had gone off a few years before to become the head coach at the University of Maine.

Interestingly enough, Iowa’s recruiting coordinator in 1994 was John Austin, who later became the head coach at the University of South Dakota, his alma mater.

Austin also had coaching ties to Colorado. He was the head coach at LaJunta (Colo.) High School from 1982-84.

Among Parker Wildeman’s teammates in 1994 were defensive lineman Jon LaFleur (Heelan), who was Wildeman’s backup, and offensive lineman Aaron Kooiker (Sioux Center).

Curiously, Iowa’s media guide in 1994 does not list one of Fry’s assistants as the defensive line coach. Milan Vooletich was defensive ends coach and Bill Brashier was the defensive coordinator who specialized in grooming linebackers.

Austin, though, would become the Hawkeye D-Line coach in 1995.

The running backs coach in ’94 was Dave Triplett, the Phi Beta Kappa Key holder who had been the head coach of two South Dakota NCAA Division II playoff teams and had directed Heelan to an Iowa big school state prep title in 1975.

  • The Big Ten is doing its level, well, maybe not level, best to make a season-ending Iowa-Nebraska game io Black Friday (day after Thanksgiving) as the supreme rival game for the two.

The history books tell you Iowa-Notre Dame was a longtime season finale.

But the Iowa-Minnesota duel for the Floyd of Rosedale Trophy trumps all potential rivalries to end a brittle November weekend.

In ’94, Parker Wildeman was part of perhaps the freakiest Hawkeye-Gopher clash ever.

After Iowa rallied to break a 42-all tie on running back Tim Dwight’s winning touchdown pass to quarterback Matt Sherman, several players doused that champion fat pig Floyd with a traditional water/Gatorade bath, not Fry.

And Wildeman was one of the Hawkeye linemen puffing on lockeroom stogies after the game.

Wildeman had sacked Gopher quarterback Tim Schade to end the host team’s final last-ditch attempt in the waning moments to win or tie.

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