Humboldt Sports History Today: 2006 Football Championship

By: Donovan W. Mann –

Humboldt, IA – In 2006 the Humboldt High School Football team won the school’s first and so far, only state championship.

Coming into the 2006 season the expectations were high for the Wildcats. They had a senior-heavy team with 29 and lot of exceptional talent. In the regular season the team went 8-1, won the district title at 7-0 and were highly motivated to make noise in the postseason.

The team’s Head Coach and current Humboldt Activities Director Greg Thomas says they felt they “had the better team” in the opening two rounds. The first round was against ADM who Humboldt beat 48-7. The second round was against Chariton.

Coach Thomas says he can remember the quarterfinal game being a cold night in Humboldt and he was glad it was in Humboldt. “They were a tough football team,” he says of their opponent. He remembers having a sense of relief after they scored their first touchdown and they could play their style of ball.

As the clock ticked down on the Wildcats 24-7 win Coach Thomas says the realization they were going to get to the semi-finals and the UNI-Dome began to set in. “It was pretty emotional, it was a pretty neat feeling for the coaches and for the players obviously and I think for the community,” he says.

Humboldt’s 2006 semi-final game was against Le Mars who knocked the Wildcats out of the postseason the year before. Coach Thomas says “both communities followed really well but our side was just a sea of blue and gold.”

The game itself became a tale of two halves.

The coach says the first half of the game “did not go very well.” Despite getting a first down on the opening drive, the Wildcats had to punt but the snap went between the punters legs and rolled inside the 10 yard line. The Wildcats did manage to force a field goal they blocked on that drive but Le Mars found 14 points that half to take the 14-0 halftime lead.

Then the third quarter came and Humboldt “caught fire.”

It all started with the kickoff to open the second half. Coach Thomas remembers Adam Vincent forcing a fumble with a hard hit and Tanner Kampen was able to recover it for the Wildcats. This set up a touchdown drive for Humboldt that got the momentum back on their side.

Coach says his quarterback, Spencer Ross, was very efficient in the quarter. The Wildcats found the second touchdown needed to force overtime.

Humboldt went on to win 20-14 in OT.

In the championship game Humboldt had to play an old North Central Conference rival in Clear Lake. Coach Thomas says that “we couldn’t have written a script any better” when thinking about this match-up.

Earlier that year Clear Lake had shut out the Wildcats 21-0. Clear Lake was also the historically dominant team in this match-up as well. Yet, it was Humboldt who dominated the title game on the way to a 27-9 victory.

Coach Thomas says he was “so happy” for the team to be able to accomplish their goal of winning the state championship. “I don’t know if I’ve ever been around as mentally focused a group of 16-18 year old young men in that four week playoff run as we were that year.” He describes his team as being “locked in” and “sharp and crisp.”

The 2006 Humboldt High School football team featured eleven first team all-district selection and three honorable mentions.

Some notable players from that unit include:

  • Tyler Nielsen who led the team in tackles (99 tackles, 35 assists, 6 TFL). He went on to play for the University of Iowa as an outside linebacker.
  • Jordan Smith led the team in rushing with 1,642 yard and 22 touchdowns and was second on the team with 63 tackles defensively. He went on to play inside linebacker of the University of Northern Iowa.
  • Sam Eischen led the team with 33 catches and 585 yards to put up eleven touchdowns. He played football at UNI and Minnesota State.
  • Cody Hundermark went on to play for the Iowa Hawkeyes as both an offensive and defensive linemen.

The biggest aspect about this team for Coach Thomas was the team was built on “a bunch of young men who were willing to accept their role.” While many did not get the limelight, they all embraced their role. This played a role in what was a good special teams season according to coach.

Forever in the history books, the 2006 Humboldt High School Football Season is one the coaches, team, school and community will not be forgetting any time soon.