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By Fritz Wagner, Regina senior
IOWA CITY - Regina defeated Tipton, 42-7, in the first round of the playoffs last Wednesday, marking the 38th consecutive victory for head coach Marv Cook and his top-ranked squad.
The win also sets up a rematch against rival West Branch tonight in Iowa City.
In their first meeting, the Regals survived a 15-13 thriller at the Little Rose Bowl in West Branch that was decided by a failed two-point conversion by the Bears late in the fourth quarter.
That game took place in the first week of district play. The rest of District 5 failed to test the Regals, who come into tonight’s game with a 10-0 record.
Tonight’s winner advances to the quarterfinals.
“We’re expecting a fast, fun game filled with great plays,” Regina senior Mike Donovan said. “I remember my brother playing the Bears back in the day and those memories are part of the history that makes this rivalry so great.”
The two teams first played in 1988. In the history of the two programs, the teams have met 14 times and the series is tied, 7-7, making this matchup even more anticipated.
“This game is a great opportunity to show the state what we’ve got,” Regina senior Mark Ward said. “We know we didn’t play as well as we could have when we played them, so we wanted a rematch.”
Both teams know what is at stake. One team’s season will end, the other will keep its state title hopes alive. On top of that, a streak will end. West Branch has advanced to the semifinals in their last four seasons and Regina has its 38-game win streak.
“Execution will be vital,” Ward said. “If we don’t execute, our season could end.”
In 1A playoff action last year, top teams St. Ansgar and Aplington-Parkersburg played in the quarterfinals in a rematch of a regular-season matchup. The Falcons won the first meeting, but the Saints won the rematch and went on to win the state championship.
The Bears are hoping for a similar outcome this year.