Josey Jewell compares Decorah football to a family.
It might be hard for him to differentiate between the two, following in the footsteps of his own relatives to wear the Vikings jersey.
Jewell is a third-generation player and fourth family member in the Decorah football program. He has made his own mark on the Vikings football program, earning all-state honors and helping Decorah to the 3A state title game last season. Jewell and the top-ranked Vikings will face West Delaware at Manchester Friday night, starting at 7 p.m. on KCRG 9.2.
Athletics were big in the Jewell household, and Vikings football topped the list.
“It’s something I value very much,” Jewell said. “I used to go to my brother’s games every Friday night and watch him play. My dad used to show me highlights and tell me stories about the whole Decorah program and what he used to do when he played.”
Jewell’s father, Bobby, was an offensive lineman for the Vikings in 1978-79. His grandfather, Robert, played for Decorah and, according to Jewell, was planning to play for the University of Iowa before a tumor prematurely ended his football career before college. Older brother, Robbie, a 2010 graduate of Decorah who was a standout running back who currently plays defensive back for Luther.
“They like football and enjoy playing it,” said Decorah Coach Bill Post, who has coached Jewell, his brother and father. “They’re a rugged bunch of guys. They’re farm boys and grew up on a farm outside of town.”
Being fourth has its perks. Jewell hasn’t shied away from the legacy, but uses it to his advantage, learning from them and applying the knowledge to identify specific game situations.
“It’s a nice thing having most of my family in it because of the experiences they tell me about,” Jewell said. “I’m almost a step ahead with them telling me what’s happening.”
The family tradition wields a double-edged sword. Not only does it provide motivation to perform at a high level, but it adds pressure to live up to it.
“If you’re family is good, you’re expected to be good,” said Jewell, who plans to play college football in state, considering Iowa, Iowa State, University of Northern Iowa and even joining his brother at Luther. “It’s an extra drive to be that much better or try to be better than them.”
Jewell has made an impact as a running back and linebacker for the Vikings. The 6-foot-2, 207-pound senior has 24 tackles, tied with Andy Hovden for the team lead, including four tackles for loss and a sack. He has tallied 183 rushing yards with five touchdowns, averaging 7.6 yards per carry.
Post said Jewell has been solid in Decorah’s four lopsided wins and that his biggest impact might be as a running back.
“He does an excellent job lead blocking,” Post said. “When he gets an open field, he’s pretty shifty. He’s hard to bring down. His offensive skills have gotten better this year. Last year, he wanted to run over people. Now, he’ll put some moves on. He’s got fine feet and good balance.”
Jewell, an all-state linebacker, said he wavers on which position he likes better. Linebacker is the current choice. He prefers tackling over being tackled. Post said opposing ball carriers know they’ve been hit when Jewell puts pads to them.
“Defensively, he really delivers a blow,” Post said. “He’s a real physical player.”
Marion Coach Tony Perkins noticed Jewell’s speed and overall talent in the Vikings’ 35-0 win over the Indians in Week 2. In that game, Jewell had 10 tackles and added 33 rushing yards, including a 7-yard score. Perkins was impressed more by his defensive play, especially his ability to cover sideline to sideline.
“He’s the real deal,” Perkins said after the game. “He’s a good player. If he makes a bad read, he can still get back and make the play.”
Jewell seems to agree with Perkins. This season, he said he has had more success as a defender.
“I’d like to think I’m better at linebacker,” Jewell said. “It’s tough to say this early in the season too. I think I’m a better tackler than running the ball, so far.”
Jewell is part of a very successful senior class. Post praised many of their efforts, including Hovden, linemen James Ostlie and Tyler Hovey, Josh Lee, Drew Schwartz and quarterback Jacob Kvale.
Hovden has been dominant, according to Post, who said the team has exceeded expectations.
“I’ve been very pleased,” Post said. “It’s been a lot of fun. It’s like having 11 coaches out there. Of course, these guys have played a lot of games over the course of the last two years.”
The Vikings will need his contribution on both sides of the ball Friday as they face West Delaware (3-1) for the Hawks’ Homecoming game. The two programs have played eight times in the last five seasons, according to Post. They split last year with West Delaware winning its Homecoming contest and Decorah winning at home to advance to the state semifinals.
“It’s becoming one of our biggest rivalries, right now,” Post said. “It’s quite a contest between us.”
Decorah has had its way with opponents this season, building leads, resting first-stringers and out-scoring foes, 168-21. Post expects a tough battle in a hostile atmosphere.
“I’m looking for a very physical game,” Post said. “They have some good athletes and great tradition. We go to their place which is a tough place to play.
“We have to focus on what we want to get done and play the game.”