SIGOURNEY – The theme to the movie “Rocky” blared over the sound system as teams huddled on the field.
Sigourney-Keota gave its best impression of the fictitious brawler, battling until the end, but still couldn’t bring down the champ.
Class 1A top-ranked and defending state champion Iowa City Regina was held to a season-low in points and survived a hard-hitting challenge with a 19-0 win last night over the host Cobras.
“They really came at us,” Regina’s Jake Brinkman said. “I give them a lot of respect, playing until the end. They’re a good football team.”
Sigourney-Keota ends the season with a 5-4 record and 2-4 in 1A District 6, leaving a solid team out of the playoffs. The Cobras wanted to go out with a bang.
“This is the proudest I’ve been as a coach,” Cobras Coach Jared Jensen said. “Our kids came out and played their guts out. We talked about it all week. You’re finishing your season on the biggest stage possible and the best team in 1A. Come out and show them you can play football.”
The Regals (9-0, 6-0) stingy defense was the bright spot, making enough plays to extend the winning streak to 51 straight games. They held Sigourney-Keota to less than 150 total yards, including 101 on the ground.
They gave some ground at times, but never broke. The Cobras had a couple good drives, including an impressive 13-play drive for 54 yards that eclipsed 8:05 off the clock to start the third. The Regals recover on their 25 to regain momentum.
“Anytime you can look and see a zero on the board it’s good,” Cook said. “They had some long, sustained drives, but ultimately our defense kept them out of the end zone. That was critical.”
Regina ended the second quarter with some luck and momentum thanks to a crazy final minute.
Sigourney-Keota took over at the Regina 48 after Drew Cook slipped and fell for an 18-yard loss on 4th and 20 with 44 seconds remaining in the half. The Regals intercepted Blaine Gretter at 12. The next play Cook hit Amelon for a 79-yard pass play and then again two plays later for a 9-yard TD with 12 seconds remaining and a 10-0 lead at the break.
“That’s what we needed,” Marv Cook said. “That was big for us.”
Cook finished with 244 yards passing, despite being harassed by the Cobras defense more than any opponent this season. Riley Dixon led Regina with 77 rushing yards. Amelon and wideout Payton Raso were injured during the game and are now day-to-day, according to Marv Cook.
Regina’s Jacob Adam kick-started the scoring with a 46-yard field goal, following a botched quick kick that gave Regina the ball on the Cobras’ 32, but the offense stalled. Adam’s boot made it 3-0 with 4:53 in the second, stopping one of their longest scoring droughts of the season.
The rest of the opening half was a knock-down, drag out fight between the two teams. The Cobras defense caused the Regals high-powered offense fits, forcing them to punt three times before the break. Regina’s big plays were far less frequent, converting 3-of-9 third-down plays and just 1-of-3 fourth-down attempts.
“We’ve never faced a team that had linebackers blitz that hard,” Brinkman said. “Our jobs as fullbacks is you have to meet force with force head-on. You have to hit hard.”
Regina iced the game with Brinkman’s 7-yard TD with less than 10 minutes remaining.
“Drew saw the defensive end rush and flipped it to me,” Brinkman said. “The wide receiver made a great block. I could have walked in.”
The Regals added a safety in the final minutes. Marv Cook had a simple message to tell his kids after the game.
“The only thing I could come up with is never take winning for granted,” he said. “Understand you don’t come in on Friday and think you’re going to show up and win a game. It’s a process.”
Now, the Regals will host a first-round playoff game Wednesday, attempting to win a fourth straight state title and two consecutive in 1A. They also are shooting for the state’s longest win streak. Work remains.
“We can’t come out and play like this in the playoffs,” Brinkman said. “If we do that, they get more confident and if they get more confidence it gets really hard to stop them. Every team in the playoffs is good.”