From the Sun archives: July 20 and 27, 1978 Semi-pro Metro Falcons take the field
August 31, 2017
Editor's note: In stories that ran July 20 and July 27, 1978, Sun sports editor Bob Campagna offered insight into the Metro Falcons - a semi-professional football team that played a season at Cornell College's Ash Stadium when they were refused permission to play home games at Cedar Rapids' Kingston Stadium.
Tickets were $3.50 for adults.
The Falcons included collegiate standouts from schools such as the University of Iowa, Northern Iowa and Upper Iowa, as well as Cornell and Coe. The latter two schools, according to Falcons' coach John Austin, provided the best two receivers in the league in Cornell's Mike James and Coe's Dennis Redel.
Metro Falcons Preview
July 20, 1978
The Metro Falcons gave Mount Vernon a sneak preview of upcoming football last Saturday in an intrasquad scrimmage at Cornell's Ash Park.
The Falcons play three home games at Ash Park, beginning with a July 29 contest against the Newton Nitehawks. The Falcons' 10-game schedule also includes Aug. 5 and Aug. 19 contests against the Omaha Mustangs and Joliet Fire, respectively, at Ash Park.
Saturday's two-hour scrimmage offered a glimpse of this year's Falcon talent.
Solon's Eddie Donovan, former University of Iowa star, looks to be a mainstay in the Falcon backfield, which is quarterbacked by Mark Gronski. Sixteen-year veteran John O'Dell returns one of the game's longest ball kicking abilities.
One thing for sure about the Falcons: their defense looked mighty good.
The Falcons is a semi-professional football team. It is one of eight teams competing in a midwest conference. There are about 10 semi-professional football conferences around the country. The Falcons play in what Pro Football Weekly considers as the "toughest semi-pro conference in the nation," according to team spokesman Roger Ferry.
Last year's nationally top ranked semi-pro team, the Delevan, Wis., Red Devils, host the Falcons in conference play Sept. 2.
The Falcons' players are generally from area colleges including the University of Iowa, Iowa State, Cornell, Coe, the University of Northern Iowa and others. The players are not paid for playing, but they play for the love of the game. The majority are former college players. Many had opportunities to try out for NFL teams as free agents.
The semi-professional football play is a class of football between college play and professional football. It features a brand of football in which the players have to rely on "natural football instinct" instead of running extensively coached plays.
The players don't have the daily practice required of full-time NFL players.
The Falcons are coached by John Austin, a William Penn College standout. Austin played NFL ball for the New York Giants as an offensive guard. He is in his second year as head coach for the Falcons.
Ready or Not: The Falcons Are Here to Play!
July 27, 1978
It may be too early for the smell of burning leaves, and certainly no light frost covers the early morning lawn.
But what otherwise might be regarded as an integral part of fall in Iowa is coming to Mount Vernon this Saturday:
Whip out the banners and raccoon coats, the drums, horns and whistles! If your sports interest has waned since the last Super Bowl two-minute warning, arise! The 1978 gridiron season kicks off with the arrival of the Metro Falcons!
The 4:30 game time at Cornell's Ash Park stadium brings a robust addition to the Mount Vernon Leisure Day celebration as well as pro football to "our" area.
The Falcons, a member of the eight-team Northern States Football League, brings its "instinct brand" of semi-pro talent to Ash stadium for the first of three home games.
Besides Saturday's clash against the rival Newton Nitehawks (another Iowa semi-pro team), the Falcons host the powerful Omaha Mustangs on August 5 and the upstart Joliet Fire on Aug. 19 at Ash stadium.
Two other Falcon "home games" are played Sept. 10 and Sept. 23 in Cedar Falls' UNIDome against the Quad City Mohawks and the Highland Park Gladiators.