Prep Football

Calvin Harris of Western Dubuque is the 2019 Gazette area football player of the year

Quarterback led Bobcats to Class 3A state championship, and Brett Favre took notice

Western Dubuque quarterback Calvin Harris is the 2019 Gazette area player of the year.
Western Dubuque quarterback Calvin Harris is the 2019 Gazette area player of the year.

CEDAR RAPIDS — Brett Favre doesn’t appear to be huge into Twitter.

The Hall of Fame quarterback retweeted three things in the month of November and produced two original tweets. One of them was particularly interesting.

It came on Nov. 23.

“Congrats to the Western Dubuque Bobcat Football Class 3A Iowa State Champs!” it said.

Yes, that’s THE Brett Favre tweeting about THAT Western Dubuque High School football team after it beat Solon, 37-17, to complete an undefeated and state championship season.

“He followed us all year, which is really neat,” said WD quarterback Calvin Harris.

Time for a little back story here.

Harris’ father, Scott, has long owned a golf cart business that has locations in Dubuque, Illinois, Wisconsin and Nebraska. Through that business, Scott Harris met and struck a friendship with Favre.

In fact, Scott goes to Favre’s home in Mississippi every year to deliver him a new cart. Calvin Harris has met Favre in person and talked to him on the phone as well.

“We took a group of guys down there (to Mississippi) back in 2014,” Calvin said. “A few of us who were on the football team this year went down there for a trip, and that was an unbelievable experience. Definitely a dream come true.”

Let’s just say there’s a reason Calvin’s uniform number was “4.”

“He did some pretty unbelievable things in his career, no doubt about that,” Calvin Harris said. “Just the gunslinging mentality that he had. I think the biggest takeaway that I had from watching Brett was just the will to win that he had. And that’s something that I tried to incorporate into the way I played.”

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Western Dubuque had a lot of good players this season. You don’t win all 13 of your games without talent and coaching.

But Calvin Harris was a little better than good. The senior provided productivity, consistency and leadership at the most important position on the field.

He rushed for 12 touchdowns and passed for another 29, completing 67 percent of his throws for 2,246 yards. He threw only two interceptions.

Harris is the 2019 Gazette area football player of the year.

» List: Meet the 2019 Gazette all-area football team

“Calvin is a rare mixture of talent, leadership, humility and work ethic,” said Western Dubuque Coach Justin Penner. “Few coaches ever have the privilege of coaching someone so special. He is extremely kinetically aware and picks up athletic skills quickly and seemingly effortlessly. However, he never seems to get enough of getting better.

“His physical attributes allow him to do special things on the field, but his humility and love of preparation led this team to the greatest of heights. He is an incredible teammate that never accepts credit while always taking blame.”

Here’s the thing about this kid. Football isn’t his best sport.

He led WD’s basketball team in scoring last season, but it’s baseball that is his bailiwick. Harris is one of the best players in Iowa, a two-time all-state catcher who has signed to play in the powerhouse Southeastern Conference at the University of Mississippi.

You’d have to think he’s got a serious shot at getting selected in this year’s Major League Baseball Draft, too.

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It wouldn’t have surprised anyone had Harris decided to skip football this season, especially after receiving a concussion that knocked him out of the 2018 3A title game against Cedar Rapids Xavier. Don’t risk another head injury, play fall baseball instead and get ready for college.

But that’s not how he’s wired.

“It was a discussion a lot of people had, but I never considered not going out,” Harris said. “I love playing football, and I love my teammates. That made it a really easy choice for me.”

It was a choice that paid off in a big way for everyone. Western Dubuque ended Xavier’s 32-game win streak in the regular season, survived the “Bracket of Death” in the first two rounds of the playoffs and whacked Lewis Central (48-14) and Solon once it got to the UNI-Dome for the semifinals and finals.

Harris played all but three plays of those final two games with a high ankle sprain that has him in a protective boot.

“Looking back, we just had a fantastic season,” Harris said. “Had a really good time (with) the family, as we always talk about. It was really cool for us and the whole Western Dubuque community to accomplish what we did.”

Just like any good quarterback, Harris deflected the credit for what he did individually.

“It was a good season for me at quarterback, but my goal was just to go out and win football games, however we had to do that,” he said. “All the credit in that goes to my teammates, especially the guys up front. Our five guys up front on offense and defense really set the tone for us all year as a team. I think everyone on the team really fed off them and the energy that they gave day in and day out.”

Brett Favre would be proud of that answer. Proud of this kid, period.

Comments: (319) 398-8259; jeff.johnson@thegazette.com

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