Dowling Catholic Football: Maximizing Success

How the Dowling Catholic football team has maintained its success over the years.


Colleen Webb

The Dowling Catholic football team smiles together after winning the state championship.

Flynn Milligan, Staff Writer

 The Dowling Catholic football team is no stranger to success. Over the years, they have been a constant force to be reckoned with on the gridiron. The team became even more feared when they accomplished the unbelievable feat of winning seven state championships in a row under legendary coach, Tom Wilson. Building such an outstanding team is no easy task, however. 


“It’s really a lot of time and effort and building a culture of hard work, accountability, and support of each other and having a common vision throughout the team,” Wilson said.


Building such a culture is a task that not many coaches or players can live up to. It takes countless hours of hard work on the football field and off it as well. 


“Maintaining it [the culture] is the hardest part. You have to make sure you are creating great examples for the new kids that come in so you can try and get them to fall in line similar to the teams before them,” Wilson said. 


Every year, the football team takes in many new athletes looking for a chance to become a part of something bigger than themselves. The pressure of being one of the members of the team is extreme. This pressure and sense of responsibility is nothing new to star quarterback Jaxon Smolik (11). 


Yes, I do feel the pressure as the quarterback. The level of play is a lot higher at the varsity level rather than the freshman level, so it creates more pressure. There are a lot more complex plays to learn,” Smolik said.


Being under center for the Maroons is an accomplishment that few hold for even a year or two. Smolik, however, has been suiting up at QB since his freshman year. Smolik was even a part of Dowling Catholic’s last State Championship in 2019-20 as a freshman. Being a quarterback is always difficult. You are the leader of the team on the field. Being the quarterback at Dowling, however, is a whole different beast. 


“At Dowling, people expect our program to have some of the best athletes and coaching in the state, so we have to perform at a high level all the time. We were also seven time state champs in a row; that creates more expectations,” Smolik said. 


People all around the state (football fans or not), have likely heard about the 7-peat. Football fans around Iowa use it as a measuring stick for not only the Maroons success every year but for other football teams around the state as well. 


“To be honest with you, winning’s hard,” Wilson said. “I think for a long time the seven in a row…people looked at that and thought that’s the standard. Well, it’s really not the standard. The standard is to try and maximize every team as much as you possibly can. It just happened to be that seven years in a row, us maximizing our team was good enough to win a championship.” 


This pressure isn’t just felt by the players, however. 


“Once you go on a string like that, a lot of people expect that. That’s why I think if our players think of  ‘the streak’ or ‘we have to win a championship’…if that’s the way you’re gonna measure success, that’s hard. Because most of the time, that’s gonna be a failure,” Wilson said. 


So, how does a team of strong athletes measure success after not bringing home a championship in the last couple of seasons?


“I think our kids just need to stay the course and realize success doesn’t just happen, it takes consistent effort over a long period of time. You have to bring a team together as one,” Wilson said. 


The entire Dowling Catholic community is certainly excited to see what the Dowling Catholic Maroons can do next season and see how far maximizing their talents and hard work can take them.

The Dowling Maroons pose after their season finale. (Colleen Webb)