Nov. 18, 2016 by Dan Holm of the Des Moines Register
Ankeny Centennial co-head football coach Jerry Pezzetti was the recipient of the Walt Fiegel Award on Friday in Cedar Falls.
Jerry Pezzetti has been awarded a lot of honors during his legendary coaching career.
On Friday, Ankeny Centennial’s co-head football coach received an award that means perhaps as much to him as any other honor.
Pezzetti was the recipient of the Walt Fiegel Coaching with Character Award during halftime of the Class 4A championship game at the UNI-Dome in Cedar Falls.
“I knew Walt very well,” Pezzetti said last week. “He was a friend of mine, and he coached over at Sioux City East forever. He was a great guy, and I was excited about it to receive an award–just knowing him as a person and the type of person he was.”
Fiegel, who led the Black Raiders to a state title in 1984, passed away in 2003. The Iowa Football Coaches Association instituted the award in his honor.
The award recognizes a coach who embodies the high character, integrity and concern for kids and service to the coaching profession that were so evident in Fiegel’s career.
“It’s an honor to receive something like this, especially knowing Walt and the things that he did for high school football in Iowa,” Pezzetti said.
Pezzetti completed his 56th season as a head coach on Nov. 11, when Centennial dropped a 41-17 decision to Dowling Catholic in the Class 4A semifinals at the UNI-Dome. The Jaguars finished with a 10-2 record.
Pezzetti surpassed the 400-victory career mark earlier this season, becoming only the second coach in state history to reach the milestone. He currently ranks 11th nationally for wins among active coaches.
Pezzetti guided Ankeny to Class 4A state titles in 1997 and 2012 and a runner-up finish in 2007. He then left in 2013 to begin the Centennial program along with his son, Ryan.
Pezzetti said he used to travel to Sioux City annually to work at Fiegel’s football camp.
“(Former Newton coach) Frank Gilson and I used to go to it together,” Pezzetti said. “And Frank passed away in 1985, so that tells you that I knew Walt for a long, long time. He was a big part of the Iowa Football Coaches Association, serving as the Executive Secretary (from 1977-94).”
Pezzetti fondly recalled the last time that he coached against one of Fiegel’s teams. In the fall of 2003, Ankeny traveled to Sioux City and posted a 34-10 victory over the Black Raiders.
Future Iowa player Andy Brodell rushed for 206 yards and three touchdowns in the win. Brodell is now a member of the Jaguars’ coaching staff.
“We were playing East and we faked real good on a play and Andy broke loose and he was in the open halfway down the field,” Pezzetti said. “Nobody was even near him, but the referees thought the ball was in the line and blew the whistle.”
A few months later, Fiegel passed away at the age of 69 after suffering a heart attack.
“I didn’t realize that it has been 13 years ago,” Pezzetti said.