Jim Tighe: Homecoming for one on Friday

WCHS grad, son of Iowa’s all-time wins leader Dick Tighe, leads Spencer into non-district clash

Jim Tighe (standing on right) addresses his Spencer football team prior to a scrimmage at Hartley earlier this month. Spencer Daily Reporter photo/Nate Shaughnessy

WEBSTER CITY — It’s four days before Jim Tighe is set to return to the place he once called home and he’s laughing as he reminisces about a powderpuff football game during homecoming week in the fall of 1985.

What, exactly, brought that on? He had to dig deep into his memory bank to come up with it.

“It will be weird to be on the opposite sideline,” Tighe said during a telephone conversation on Monday. “I stood there for a powderpuff game when I was a junior and that’s my only recollection of standing there.”

The son of Hall of Fame coach Dick Tighe and a member of the WCHS Class of 1987, Tighe will return to his old stomping grounds at Lynx Field Friday evening when he brings his Spencer football team to town for a non-district clash against Webster City. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m.

“I think it will be kind of a neat experience,” he said. “It’s not that big of a deal and I know our players don’t care where I grew up. But there are so many good memories there.”

Spencer head coach Jim Tighe walks towards the center of the field following his team’s win over Spirit Lake in 2017. Spencer Daily Reporter photo/Nate Shaughnessy

Tighe quickly thinks back to the 1985 and 1986 teams that he played on under his dad. WCHS went 20-2 during that two-year stretch, its only two losses to Harlan in the playoffs.

Dick Tighe spent 31 years at WCHS and amassed 220 victories and 11 playoff appearances before he moved on to stops at Iowa Falls and a second stint with Fort Dodge St. Edmond. The state’s all-time wins leader, who still resides in Webster City, officially retired following the 2016 season with 432 career victories.

It was no surprise that Jim Tighe followed in his father’s footsteps on the sideline. After a run at Monticello, he took over the program in Spencer in 2003 and has led the Tigers to seven playoff appearances, including five in a row from 2011-15.

At Monticello, Tighe implemented his dad’s power I-formation belly offense, but he soon adapted his own style.

“We struggled at Monticello because we didn’t have big, physical linemen,” he said. “So that’s how we started evolving.”

The final product is Spencer’s triple option attack that can give opposing defenses fits.

Friday will be Tighe’s first trip back to Lynx Field in 22 years and it will be the first time that WCHS and Spencer will meet since the 1990 state quarterfinals, a game the Tigers won, 17-0. It will be the 11th meeting all-time between the two programs.

Tighe says it should be entertaining, but he’s just happy to get out of his corner of the state for a week.

“It’s kind of exciting just to play somebody different,” he said. “In northwest Iowa, our district hardly ever changes and our non-district schedule has historically been Emmetsburg and Spirit Lake. So we were interested in trying to schedule Webster City.”

Spencer is coming off a 27-13 loss to Spirit Lake in Week 1. WCHS took care of Gilbert, 14-6, in its opener.

Tighe was impressed with what he saw on film from the Lynx.

“I think it will be a very physical game and I think it will probably be a pretty quick game,” he said while chuckling, knowing that both teams want to control time of possession with their rushing attacks. “I know they’re rebuilding their (offensive) line from last year, but their line still looks pretty darned good to me. They just executed so well, especially for the first game.”