A press release from the West Branch Community School District on Monday, November 13, 2023.
WEST BRANCH, IOWA — The West Branch Community School District is beginning its search for its next high school varsity football coach.
It’s a rare vacancy for a program led for 40 years by legendary coach Butch Pedersen, who passed away in April at the age of 73. Pedersen’s tenure with the Bears began as a junior high coach in 1975, working his way up to become varsity head coach in 1983. In the four decades that followed, he amassed a career record of 338-84 and captured three state championships.
“West Branch football was synonymous with success during the remarkable 40 years of leadership by Coach Pedersen,” said Jake Stenberg, Athletic Director. “He was a legend, and we’re excited to see what the future holds for our program as we look for its next leader who can build on that foundation of excellence.”
Pedersen was inducted to the Iowa High School Football Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 1994 amidst a historic run of success in which the Bears won 62 consecutive regular season games between 1990 and 1996. He was named the conference or district coach of the year 12 times and led the South team at the annual Iowa Shrine Bowl All Star Football Classic in 2019.
Pedersen, a 1968 West Branch High School graduate, was honored as the National Coach of the Year by the National Federation of State High School Associations in 2017.
Assistant coaches collectively guided the 2023 varsity season in Pedersen’s absence. The Bears won a share of the class 1A District 5 title, finishing 6-4 and advanced to the second round of the state playoffs.
“We want to thank all the coaches for the hard work and dedication they exhibited and provided to our student-athletes during what was certainly a challenging season without Coach Pedersen,” Stenberg said.
West Branch High School competes in Class 1A and plays its home games at Butch Pedersen Field, also known as the Little Rose Bowl. The Bears have qualified for the state playoffs 31 times—including each of the last 16 years—and have won 21 district titles since 1992.
The West Branch Community School District has a K-12 enrollment of more than 820 students. The community is located 11 miles east of Iowa City.
WBCSD job postings can be found on the District's website. At the team's end-of-season banquet on November 12, John Hierseman and Jason Pedersen announced they will not be returning to the coaching staff in 2024.