(KMAland) -- Throughout the month of August, KMA Sports is announcing our latest Hall of Fame class. Today, we welcome our second of five teams in this year’s class – the 1990 state football champion of Class A, Logan-Magnolia.
One year after the Panthers finished as a state runner-up in Class 1A, Coach Gene Esser’s team made the move down to Class A and were absolutely dominant.
“It was just a great group of guys,” Coach Esser said. “Really smart individuals both inside and outside the classroom, and they were just a really, really tight knit group. They made a pact with themselves that they weren’t going to be satisfied with anything but a state championship.”
And that’s exactly what happened, as they outscored their 11 opponents by nearly 37 points per game on their way to the title.
“Their work ethic was phenomenal,” Esser said. “We could really work these kids hard, and they were self-motivated. We had several kids off this team go on to play football (in college).”
Perhaps the most recognizable name on that list is current Lo-Ma head coach Matt Straight, who played at Iowa State after earning two first-team All-State honors at quarterback.
Offensive lineman Sean Diggins, who was also a two-time All-State pick on the offensive line, went on to Grinnell. Bart Bowman, who later played at Iowa Central and Peru State, was a second-team All-State choice along the defensive line. Jake Espenmiller was a key defensive player and later played at Simpson, and Clay Bowman – a future college football player at Iowa Central and Nebraska-Kearney – was another standout on the defensive line.
Others that earned an All-State nomination of some sort included defensive backs Shannon Michael and Daryl Poduska, offensive linemen Roger Androy and Russ Frazier and defensive lineman Steve Snyder.
“These guys were in offseason sports,” Esser said. “Many of them were great wrestlers, good track athletes, they played baseball. They were just year-round athletes, and we knew the cupboard was full.”
It’s hard to pinpoint the most impressive part of this team. Was it the offense that averaged over 40 points per game? Or the defense that pitched six shutouts and allowed just 3.7 points per game?
“The defense was very good,” Esser said. “Our offense was very potent. We also had great special teams. When you think of a team playing together, this team stressed special teams. The last three playoff games, nobody kicked it to us.”
The Panthers rolled over undefeated Stuart-Menlo in the first round of the playoffs, 51-0, before a 22-0 win over Treynor in round two. At the Dome, they beat Mallard by a 25-13 score before a championship win over Madrid, 33-13.
“Mallard had four kids that were coach’s kids and one went on to play for the Chicago Bears,” Esser said. “They were just loaded with athletes. They made it a game, and we had to battle back. They had a great group of athletes.
“Then when we played Madrid, Randy Hinkel had a backfield that ran the 4x1 and 4x2. They just had unbelievable speed. We just tried to make it a smash-mouth football game, load up and force them to pass. They went seven for seven on their first seven passes, but it ended up working out towards the end.”
The 1990 Lo-Ma state champions will be officially honored, celebrated and inducted at a later date to be determined. Listen to the complete interview with Coach Esser below.
2020 KMA SPORTS HALL OF FAME CLASS