Head Football Coach Tom Wilson at Dowling Catholic High School has been in his role since 2004.  2014 marked his third State Championship in 10 years!  I’d say that is a pretty great run for Coach Wilson so far!  Dowling Catholic High School, from West Des Moines, finished this past season as the #1 ranked team in all of Iowa.  Their State Championship game was a 49-14 victory over Washington High of Cedar Rapids.  They are 27-1 in the last two years, having won back to back State Championships in 2013 and 2014.


A big thanks to Coach Wilson for taking his time to share some insights about their successful season, and program!

  1. What does your football program do differently from other programs in your league, conference, state that helped you win a State Championship?

 I am not certain what other programs do.  I feel good about our consistent work ethic, emphasis on multi-sport athletes, and an accountability system that keeps our kids on track with their goals and ours as a program.

  1. What do you consider to be the most important aspect of your state championship?

Winning back to back championships is hard.  We obviously have talented kids but we also had good leaders.  Our focus was to win back to back championships.  Our kids did not lose sight of that goal.

  1. What is one piece of advice that you would give to a coach wanting to win a state championship?

Stay the course but don’t be afraid to make adjustments with time.  As a head coach, I lost the first three state championship games I coached in.  Since 2010, we have won three championships.  Sometimes people do not respect how difficult it is to achieve.

  1. What kind of offense did you run?

Spread/No Huddle

Coach Tom Wilson
Coach Tom Wilson
  1. What kind of defense did you run?


  1. Which of the Special Teams was most valuable this year, and why?

Punt Return-time and time again it gave us field position.  We also returned 4 for scores.  Two of those coming in the state quarterfinals.

  1. Do you incorporate some type of character development program within your football program? If so, what program do you use?

Any program that sustains success over time has character development.  May not be a canned program but you teach character.  We are starting to emphasize 3 Dimensional Coaching to all of our sports.  We also have a leadership class within the curriculum of our school.  However, character is taught every day.

2014 State Champions


  1. Do you incorporate some type of leadership development program within your football program? If so, what program do you use?

See answer 7!

  1. What is the number one obstacle you face in building a Championship caliber football program in your community?

Distractions-typical teen things.  Drugs, alcohol, etc.  I would say a close second is unrealistic expectations.  Everyone wants what is best for their son but not everyone can be a D1 athlete.

  1. Who do you consider to be your main mentor in this profession and what about that coach do you try to emulate in your program?

There are several.  However, Don Erusha, long time OL coach at Northern Iowa and Wartburg coached with me at my last job for 8 years.  He had as much impact on me as a coach as anyone.  Bob Bozied, a clinician for BFS, has also had a huge impact on my career.


Coach Fore highlights 108 teams from 42 different states in his book BUILDING CHAMPIONSHIP CALIBER FOOTBALL PROGRAMS.  If you like getting insight like this from coaches, you will LOVE this book. Buy it now for just $19!  Why not learn from the BEST coaches in the nation?!