SOLON – Iowa City Regina faced a great challenge and looked great overcoming it.
The Regals demonstrated its strength in multiple facets of football, and turned an expected fight into a beatdown.
Class 1A top-ranked Regina dominated rival Solon, 38-0, in a non-district prep football battle Friday night at Spartan Stadium. The Regals extended their win streak to 44 straight games at the expense of the program whose 42-game streak they snapped three years ago.
Regina (2-0) used all of its weapons in the arsenal, including an efficient passing game early, an explosive rush attack late and a stifling defense the entire contest.
The win was the fourth straight over Solon, allowing the Regina varsity to remain perfect during this senior class’ tenure.
“I can’t explain it,” Regina senior running back Riley Dixon said. “I’m getting emotional. They’re a great team.”
The Regals defense was solid, containing the Spartans’ offense and holding them to negative yards in the second half.
“Our defense played the best game I’ve ever seen a defense play in Iowa high school football,” Dixon said. “It’s unbelievable what they could do to Solon’s offense.”
Dixon provided a big punch in the second half as the Regals front line took control. Dixon had a mere 36 rushing yards until breaking consecutive runs for 64 and 70 yards. The first went for a touchdown, giving Regina a 31-0 lead with 11:37 to go in the game. The second, on the very next drive, set up Michael Adam’s 8-yard run for the final score with 10:21.
“It’s all the (offensive) line,” said Dixon, who added four catches for 51 yards. “Julian Martinez made a heck of a block. He sealed off the tackle and it was out of the gate.
“Connor Hamm is a fast kid. Coaches were giving me a bit of (teasing) for getting chased down, but now that I know that he won the 110 high (hurdles) I feel better about myself.”
Dixon, who had a 9-yard touchdown in the third, finished with 170 yards, increasing his season total to 277.
“It’s a tribute to him as a young man, because last year he had a tendency to get frustrated,” Regina Cook Marv Cook said. “He’s just playing. He’s a great teammate right now. He catches the ball when we need him to in the slot, running down the seams. He runs hard, runs hard and then he comes out and makes a big play like that for us.”
Regina did damage through the air in the first half, building a 17-0 lead.
Similar to week 1, Drew Cook hit his stride in the second quarter. Cook started hit receivers in a workman-like rhythm, closing the first half with seven straight completions.
The biggest game on a quick swing pass to Jake Brinkman in the slot, who made a couple moves and bolted 55 yards for the game’s first touchdown. The Regals extended their lead to 10-0 with 5:30 to go before the break.
Regina went to the well again a little more than four minutes later. Cook tossed a similar pass to his left, hitting Nick Phillips for the first time. Phillips did the rest, breaking a tackle behind the line of scrimmage, cutting to the outside and dashing and diving inside the pylon.
Cook threw for 194 yards and two scores. It’s a second straight game of solid play, but it is indicative of the Regals’ offensive balance that had 405 total yards.
“Ideally, you want to be 50/50, if you can,” Marv Cook said. “Keep the defense honest.
“To have that balance is a positive for us. We still have a lot of work to do.”
Capitalizing on opportunities was key, especially in the opening quarter. With both defenses controlling the game, the Regals drove inside the Spartans 10 before being shut down. Jacob Adam booted a 28-yard field goal for the 3-0 lead.
Solon (1-1) appeared to answer, advancing to Regina’s 2-yard line. The Regals defense stiffened and forced a field goal attempt that was denied when it bounced off the right upright. The momentum shifted immediately.
“You can just feel our sideline deflate,” Solon Coach Kevin Miller said. “From there, they got the momentum. We couldn’t establish anything.”
Brandon Kramer led Solon with 100 rushing yards. Spartans quarterback was held to just 44 yards passing. The Spartans, uncharacteristically, shot themselves in the foot with penalties and numerous botched exchanges between center and quarterback.
“I think the effort was there,” Miller said. “We just didn’t do the things we needed to do to execute in crucial moments.
“They took advantage of every opportunity that we gave them.”