After a perfect season, members of the Iowa City Regina football team received the perfect honor.
Quarterback Jack Verducci led a group of eight Regals that were named to the Iowa Newspaper Association’s Class 2A all-state teams one day after capturing the 2A state title with a 21-0 win over North Polk. Verducci was named captain of the 2A all-state team, joining Williamsburg’s Austin Blythe and North Tama’s Brendon Boerm, the 3A and A captains, respectively.
Verducci said it’s an honor, but the most important thing was the team accomplishment.
“The main thing is we’re glad we were able to win that state championship,” Verducci said. “It’s also nice to be recognized for our performances.”
Verducci earned the top honor in 2A with an efficient season, owning a 248.5 QB rating. Verducci, a 6-foot, 203-pound senior, completed almost 70-percent of his passes, accumulating 1,698 passing yards. The most impressive stat is his 120 pass attempts for 22 TDs and no interceptions.
“I don’t know if it’s ever been done before,” Cook said. “It’s a combination of great decision-making, great receivers, but ultimately it says a lot about Jack and his ability to execute and run the offense.”
Verducci was quick to compliment his teammates.
“That’s just a credit to the players around me,” said Verducci. “My line’s given me a great pocket all year and my receivers and I have been working together for four years. The timing is great. They run crisp routes and they get their hands on the ball and catch it.”
The Regals’ senior class were driven to win a state crown since junior high, according to Verducci. The Regals finished 14-0 to claim their first state title since winning the 2005 1A title.
“This is special for the seniors. This was our last game,” Verducci said after the 2A championship. “This is the apex. Regina football is on the rise, for sure. But we’re glad we got out on top.”
Verducci is undecided where he will attend college, but he will take all five of his official visits. He said he’s been contacted by six or seven Football Bowl Series programs. He is also considering attending an Ivy League school. Verducci said he would like to study pre-Med or pre-Law and minor in sports management.
“I have a lot of options right now,” Verducci said. “I’m open to everything.”
The Regals had five players on the first-team, including wide receiver Zach Pechous and offensive lineman Zach Ries. Defensive linemen Braden Lehman and Patrick McCaffery made the first-team on defense.
“We knew we were pretty fortunate coming in,” Cook said. “We had a ton of experience coming in from last year. A lot of those guys started and played a lot of football for us last year.
“Patrick McCaffery is the one that jumped off the page, as far as, making huge strides from last year to this year and turned out to be a dominant force. I’m biased. I’ve been around those kids. They’re all extremely deserving for any recognition they get this season.”
Blythe, a University of Iowa football recruit, was named first-team all-state as an offensive lineman. The 6-3, 285-pound senior helped the Raiders gain rushing 2,768 yards as a tackle.
“It’s a great honor,” said Blythe, who also played defensive tackle. “I’m humbled to have been selected as the captain of this team and it’s just great I got this honor among so many other great players.”
Blythe, believed to be the first freshman heavyweight wrestler to reach the state finals, will attempt to become a four-time state finalist and three-time state champion in 2A this winter.
“What impresses me most is he has good feet,” Solon Coach Kevin Miller said about Blythe. “He’s a good athlete. To be that big and move that well, he’s very effective on both sides of the football.
“He’s an outstanding football player.”
Miller’s Spartans, who won a fourtth straight state title after moving up to 3A from 2A this season, had two first-teamers in kicker Marshall Koehn and offensive lineman Tyler Smith.
Boerm guided North Tama to a 14-0 season and the A state title, beating Madrid, 43-34, Friday at the UNI-Dome in Cedar Falls. In that game, he displayed exactly why he was picked to lead the best of Class A. Boerm posted more than 100 yards in three categories, rushing for 104 yards, passing for 174 and hauling in three receptions for 112 yards.
Iowa City High reached the 4A state title game for a second straight season and had two players placed on the first-team. Quarterback Andrew McNulty, who rushed for more than 1,100 yards and threw for 1,276, was selected as a utility player, and was joined by offensive lineman Dan Michk.
Linn-Mar’s Jer Garman was named to the 4A first team for the second straight season. Garman compiled 1,877 total yards, including 1,601 rushing, and 29 TDs this season. During his career with the Lions, Garman rushed for almost 4,400 yards with 62 TDs and amassed more than 5,400 all purpose yards with 68 touchdowns.
Cedar Rapids Xavier’s defensive end Chase Kleopfer earned first-team honors. Kleopfer had 50 tackles, including three sacks and five for loss, and 15 hurries. Cedar Rapids Kennedy’s Christian French and Marion’s Jake McDonald were named first-team linebackers in 4A and 3A, respectively.
French, an NCAA Division I recruit, considering continuing his career at the University of Oregon, Iowa and Notre Dame, had 70 tackles and three sacks, while McDonald had 96 solo tackles, 32 assists and eight sacks for the Indians.
West Des Moines Dowling quarterback Connor Bravard (4A), Brendan TerWee of West Lyon (1A) and Spencer Clausen of Arnstrong-Ringsted (8-man) were other captains.
Below is the entire list of all-state teams for all six of the state’s classes:
Andrew McNulty, Armstrong-Ringsted, Austin Blythe, Brendan TerWee, Brendon Boerm, Cedar Rapids Kennedy, Cedar Rapids Xavier, Chase Kleopfer, Christian French, Connor Bravard, Dan Minchk, Iowa City Regina, Jack Verducci, Jake McDonald, Jer Garman, Linn-Mar, Marion, North Tama, Regals, Spencer Clausen, West Des Moines Dowling, West Lyon, Williamsburg