Former Cedar Rapids Washington football coach Wally Sheets dies at age 88

Wally Sheets coached Cedar Rapids Washington to a 8-1 record in 1967. (Washington High School)

CEDAR RAPIDS – They known as it Air Washington.

That was the moniker given to Cedar Rapids Washington’s soccer program again within the Nineteen Eighties. In a day and age when three yards and a cloud of mud was the norm, the Warriors again then have been totally different.

Considerably totally different. As a substitute of a rush-heavy method offensively, head coach Wally Sheets really needed to throw the soccer.

“He was method forward in his soccer thoughts,” Paul James mentioned. “When (former Iowa Hawkeye receiver) Invoice Happel and that crew have been seniors in 1981, we instituted an offense that was a one-back offense. It was the ‘I’ after which we motioned out of it. We had three broad receivers and a decent finish, which is what you see now Friday evening, Saturday and Sunday.

“However in 1981, no one was doing stuff like that … Wally was not afraid of the ahead move.”

Sheets died Thursday in Florida on the age of 88 after a protracted sickness. An Iowa Soccer Coaches Affiliation Corridor of Famer, he was some of the profitable Metro soccer coaches ever, compiling a 188-88-4 profession report in 31 years at Tipton and Washington.

A Tipton native who performed soccer for Forest Evashevski on the College of Iowa, he led the Warriors program for 29 years after a brief stint as an assistant for Bud Rainbow on the college.

“I used to be desirous about what have been a number of the qualities of Wally,” mentioned James, who was Sheets’ defensive coordinator for 19 years earlier than succeeding in 1995. “One in all them is that he believed in giving youngsters a second likelihood. He had a giant coronary heart for those that made errors, recommended them to attempt to go down the precise path. He would at all times give gamers a second likelihood. It was like ‘OK, this athlete tousled within the classroom, in his private life or no matter, he’s off the group.’

“Wally would at all times have circumstances and issues like that to attempt to carry the athlete again down the precise path.”

Sheets led Washington to the playoffs 11 occasions, together with six Class 4A state semifinal appearances between 1978 and 1985. But the Warriors by no means might recover from that semifinal hump.

In actual fact, Washington has by no means gained a state title within the sport regardless of a lot success through the years.

The most effective groups Sheets ever had was in 1985, a membership that misplaced to Linn-Mar within the Class 4A semifinals, 20-13, on an icy, muddy Kingston Stadium area. Sheets had needed the sport to be moved to the UNI-Dome in Cedar Falls, a request turned down by Linn-Mar counterpart Greg Purnell as a result of Washington already had performed there earlier within the season.

That led to a confrontation between them within the postgame handshake line and a heated rivalry in ensuing years between the coaches and colleges. Washington and Dubuque Hempstead additionally had a not-always-friendly rivalry within the late Seventies and early Nineteen Eighties, with tales abound in regards to the aggressive relationship between Sheets and Hempstead Coach Bob Timmerman, whom Purnell was an assistant coach for previous to going to Linn-Mar.

But there at all times was respect there. In actual fact, Purnell contacted The Gazette on Thursday when he discovered of Sheets’ passing to provide his ideas and greatest needs.

“One of many biggest opponents I ever coached towards,” Purnell mentioned. “I feel Wally was forward of his time in some methods. He platooned at a time when hardly anybody did that. He had an ‘I’ offense and at all times had tailback. And he used his tight ends within the passing sport rather well. I actually studied his movie quite a bit and tried to include a number of the issues he did.”

James took over for Sheets, spent 12 seasons as head coach, stepped all the way down to turn into the college’s actions director, then returned to the put up from 2013 to 2016. Maurice Blue has been Warriors head coach since then, a man who performed at Washington for Sheets within the early Nineties.

He addressed his group in observe Thursday in regards to the proverbial godfather of Washington soccer.

“I loved taking part in for him. He was at all times good to me. I at all times felt like he had my again and my greatest pursuits at coronary heart,” Blue mentioned.

He chuckled when relating his favourite Wally Sheets story.

“Going into my junior yr, my dad lived in New York, so my brother and I’d at all times exit in the summertime to go to him,” Blue mentioned. “Wally needed me go play guard, and I used to be like ‘What the heck? I’m not a frickin’ offensive lineman. Overlook this. I’m not taking part in guard.’

“Then I keep in mind getting back from New York … He’d at all times have his Japanese Iowa Soccer Camp. We went to that, and we examined and stuff, and I ran a 4.5 40. I didn’t have to listen to anymore about taking part in O-line.”

Sheets is survived by his spouse, Beth, son, Todd, daughter, Anne, and a number of grandchildren.

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