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Scheel welcomed into Union Hall of Fame

October 18, 2019
CJ Eilers - Editor ( , Dysart Reporter

The 2011 3A football championship team holds a special place in the hearts of the Union faithful, and Jay Scheel was in the middle of the tremendous year. During halftime of the 2019 Homecoming game against Vinton-Shellsburg on Friday, Scheel was inducted into the Union High School Athletic Hall of Fame, five years after graduating from the school and embarking on another athletic journey at the highest level possible in college.

Yet all athletes start off as kids with big dreams, much like Scheel did while living in Mt. Auburn. Scheel grew up watching the Iowa Hawkeyes on TV and playing football in the Marshalltown Football league starting in third grade. Saturdays were dedicated to playing in the league and developing early as a player. When he started attending youth football camps in Dysart, he drew the eye of Joe Hadachek.

"Jay was the third class of youth football players we had," Hadachek said. "He's always been athletic. He had special skills and could make plays. Tall, lanky, had a great ability to jump and could make people miss."

Article Photos

Jay Scheel was recognized for his achievements at Union and was inducted into the Union Athletic Hall of Fame on Friday, Oct. 11.

The years went by and eventually Scheel reached high school, playing for the freshman and JV teams his first season. By his sophomore year, the athletic receiver was on the varsity roster. Initially a wide receiver in the 2011 season, Scheel stepped up when an injury to Trev Hadachek sidelined the quarterback.

"I did whatever I could as a good teammate to help the team," Scheel said. "I remember they had a lot of expectations that season, so I wanted to play at the best of my ability."

Scheel began part of a "three headed-monster" offense alongside Trev Hadachek after recovering to return at wide receiver and running back Wes Burnside. Scheel would finish with 1,334 yards passing, including 12 touchdown passes. He would rush for 548 yards and five touchdowns in a 12-2 season that would see the Knights claim their first championship title.

"We knew the talent we had that year," Scheel said. "We showed we could play with the best that season. I was a young kid excited to win a State championship. It was really meaningful and I feel it sparked my passion for football. It made me hungry for more success."

Though similar team success wouldn't come during Scheel's junior and senior years, he drew the attention of several Division I college programs, including Iowa, Iowa State, Minnesota and Nebraska. However, Scheel's heart led him to commit to the Hawkeyes in the summer before his junior year.

"I'd grown up in Iowa and watched them since I was a kid," Scheel said. "I didn't feel persuaded anywhere else and I knew I wanted to be a part of that program."

Stepping onto Kinnick Stadium was a dream come true for Scheel, yet injuries plagued his time as a Hawkeye. He underwent knee surgery on two occasions and dealt with tendonitis. He saw limited action in the 2015 and 2016 season, eventually leading to the decision to walk away from football in 2017.

"It was a tough decision for me, but it was something I felt was best for me," Scheel said. "I was able to get my degree through scholarship and I don't have any regrets about that. I have mixed emotions because of the success I had in high school and not doing exactly what I wanted in college. I played for a solid coach and a great program that taught me to grow as a person."

Scheel's accomplishments as a football star at Union were recognized in earnest as he returned to the field for the Hall of Fame induction alongside the 2007-10 cross country teams on a cold October night.

"It was special for me," Scheel said. "Union brought back a lot of memories and it made me the man I am today. I had a lot of fun and it was a cool night."

Currently, Scheel works in Des Moines working at Apex Systems as a Recruiter and working in the business world. When asked what his advice was for players, the former Knight couldn't narrow down one thing.

"I feel I can't say just one thing to the young players, but i say chase your passion, don't compare yourself to others, do your own thing to the best of your ability," Scheel said. "As long as you're leaving your best on the field, there's nothing wrong with that."

Hadachek remembers Scheel as a quiet leader, working hard in the weight room and leading by example "12 months in the year" as a mutli-sport athlete. Scheel holds school track records for the long jump with a leap of 21'4 1/2, 100m with a time of 10.78, and 200m with a time of 22.22. Hadachek also remembers his athletic ability on the basketball court.

"He's an extremely humble young man," Hadachek said. "He was a prolific punt returner and our go-to guy later in his high school career. I remember a couple of moves against Adel Desoto really made that impression on Iowa. Jay is more than deserving of this honor and represents the true team player throughout high school. More than anything, he represented the best of staying humble and staying hungry.

Photos of Jay Scheel's induction into the Union Athletic Hall of Fame are available through Flickr on the Dysart Reporter Facebook page.



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