Algona fans support Bulldogs, Bears into postseason

Submitted photo by Maureen Meis Seniors from the Algona and Bishop Garrigan football programs got together earlier this month at Veterans Park in Algona.

Algona’s two high schools have proven this season that even small towns can produce big-time football.

Algona High, with over 400 students in grades 9-12, and Bishop Garrigan, with approximately 150, have treated the town of 5,500 to a season to remember every Friday Night in 2018.

“I don’t know if it has ever been quite like this,” said Garrigan head coach Marty Wadle, who is 201-75 in his 27 years at the helm. “Andy (Jacobson, Algona head coach) has a great group, and they’re having a special season as well.

“I talk to Andy every Saturday morning for the Coaches’ Corner. This is great for every kid and everyone in the community.”

For the first time since 2015, both schools will be in the state playoffs together. Garrigan is making its 26th postseason trip overall and 15th straight. Algona is making its sixth appearance overall, but first since 2015.

“It’s been a great season, seeing the crowds at our games and supporting the players,” said Jacobson, who is 19-27 in five seasons at Algona. “It is a great environment in the community to see both teams playing as well as they have.”

Of the 96 postseason programs in Iowa, 61 counties are represented overall, and 21 have more than one participant. Only Kossuth (Algona, Bishop Garrigan), Carroll (Carroll, Kuemper), Linn (Cedar Rapids Prairie, Cedar Rapids Xavier) and Polk (Ankeny and Ankeny Centennial) have two playoff qualifiers from the same town.

Both the third-ranked Golden Bears and No. 6 Bulldogs have spent quite a bit of time in the Top-5 of the Class A and 2A rankings, respectively, and the programs were a combined 17-1 in the regular season.

The sport gets an early start in this town, with flag football and the Midwest Youth Football League (MYFL) offered before middle school.

“At the junior high, some of my our coaches — Dave Weland, Ron Patterson and Mick Elbert — help out a lot,” Wadle said. “We start to instill our system, with patterns, holes, a numbering system and a passing tree. We’re trying to teach them the right thing early on.

“At the lower levels, it’s nice to get them interested and have a positive experience with football. We want them to like and love the game.”

It’s been business as usual for the Golden Bears, as they finished off their fourth straight unbeaten regular season. Garrigan has prevailed in 36 straight regular season contests, and the team has won 41 of 44 games in the last four years.

Algona started the turnaround last fall, finishing 4-5 after a winless campaign two years ago. This marks the Bulldogs’ first winning season since a 5-4 mark in 2007.

“It’s great to see the kids invest in the future and develop,” Jacobson said. “At the junior high level we have them do some of our stuff, like I learned from Coach (Ed) Thomas (Aplington-Parkersburg).”

Algona currently boasts the top-ranked offense in the entire state at 4,406 yards (489.6 per game). Fort Dodge is second at 4,378 (486.4).

Bishop Garrigan will host Wapsie Valley (7-2) on Friday, and Algona will travel to Crestwood (6-3).


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