With only five returning starters, the Ankeny football team entered last season with some tempered expectations.
Coach Jeff Bauer never believed them, though.
Bauer guided the Hawks to a 9-4 record and a runner-up finish in Class 5A in his first season as head coach. Now, he has been named the Class 5A Coach of the Year by the Iowa Football Coaches Association.
Bauer previously served as an assistant under Rick Nelson before taking over the program last year when Nelson left to rejoin Mark Farley’s coaching staff at Northern Iowa. He quickly put his own stamp on the program.
In Bauer’s first game, Ankeny rallied from a 17-0 deficit to beat Ankeny Centennial, 39-38, in double overtime. The Hawks then suffered back-to-back losses to Southeast Polk and Dowling Catholic before winning eight of their next nine games, including a 14-7 victory over Dowling in the Class 5A quarterfinals.
Ankeny eventually fell to Southeast Polk, 49-21, in the title game.