IOWA CITY - The resumes are impressive.
They have been an NFL all-pro, NCAA Division I athletes, standouts for prep football state title teams that continued to play in college and head coach of other programs. Iowa City Regina coaches have merged vast knowledge of the game with effective ways to communicate it to players that has led to success.
Regina Coach Marv Cook and his staff will have their hands full, preparing the top-ranked Regals for an Iowa High School Athletic Association Class 1A state semifinal against No. 8 North Fayette Valley on Saturday at the UNI-Dome in Cedar Falls, beginning at 10:06 a.m. The Regals will look for their 55th straight win, which would tie the state’s all-time longest win streak held by Waterloo East (1965-71).
The players realize the resource they have with a staff that consistently puts them in position to win each week.
“They do a great job,” said Regals junior starting quarterback Drew Cook, who is the son of the head coach. “I admire all of them. They’re great guys with a lot of experience in football. I thank them for all they do for me.”
Their credentials are almost unmatched.
Marv Cook is in his seventh season as head coach of the Regals. He is a former all-pro tight end, playing seven seasons including five with the New England Patriots and one each with the Chicago Bears and St. Louis Rams, which followed a Hall-of-Fame career with the University of Iowa.
Associate head coach and defensive coordinator Jason Dumont, offensive coordinator Ed Hinkel, Alex Kanellis and Jake Reisen all played for the Hawkeyes. Defensive line coach Mike Brinkman played at UNI. Kevin Stout, who a defensive coach that works with the secondary was on state championship teams at West Branch before playing college ball. Assistant Tom Nosbish has been a varsity head coach. Reisen and fellow assistant Adam Martenson played on Regina’s 2005 state title team.
“It’s an awesome thing to have those coaches,” Regina’s all-state senior running back Riley Dixon said. “The amount of what they do truly shows they care. Ultimately, they want the same goal that we do. It’s great to have.”
Being a pro or college player doesn’t automatically translate into being a successful prep coach. The majority of the current staff went through a learning curve after it was assembled.
“The core group of five or six guys has been together and we learned together how to coach,” Dumont said. “We’ve all just morphed into our own roles.
“Different guys are in charge of different areas. Coach Cook has always been a guy who lets his coaches coach. He contributes and steps in when he thinks he needs to.”
Practices seem like a collaborative effort with different coaches leading various segments. A talented staff makes it easier for Marv Cook to delegate duties. He said he appreciates their impact on the players and the relationships they build together.
“I feel every coach I have is a great mentor to these young men,” Marv Cook said. “There’s something about each coach that each player can gravitate to.”
Drew Cook admits going to Hinkel and trying to absorb his knowledge of the offense. Hinkel is a go-to source whenever Drew Cook has a question.
“He calls all the plays and does a great job with it,” Drew Cook said. “He can see the field from the sideline about as well as I can. It’s great to have his perspective on things and he does well, telling me what I need to do.”
The coaches get along well. The interaction isn’t as nice as when they shared Kanellis’ birthday cake prior to a 45-27 win over Wilton. Members have clashed when going over game plans and sharing their opinion about what is best for the team.
“Everybody has different ideas,” Hinkel said. “We have some heated meetings. We all have ideas of what we think works. We sit down and hash it out. When we all walk out of the room we’re on the same page.”
Regina (12-0) has beaten teams in various ways, using a balanced offense, a stingy defense and opportunistic special teams. Dixon leads the rushing attack with 1,266 rushing yards and 15 TDs. Drew Cook has thrown for 2,025 yards and 20 TDs. The Regals defense has allowed just a little more than eight points a game and has five players with at least 60, including a team-high 78 by Justin Hunter.
They might give up some yardage but limits points. Marv Cook praised the work of Dumont, Brinkman, Stout and other defensive coaches.
“They’ve been doing it for a long time,” Marv Cook said. “They’ve got great plans in place.”
The Regals are attempting to compete a fourth straight perfect season, winning last year’s 1A title after two consecutive 2A crowns. They are pushing for the chance to move into first place of one of the state’s most hallowed team records. Numerous hours have gone in to making sure the Regals are equipped with knowledge of the game and the proper schemes for each foe, putting them in position to win.
“It’s ridiculous the amount of time they put in,” Dixon said. “I told (Dumont) I had bet my dad that instead of watching the Iowa (football) game that he was watching film of Clayton Ridge all day.”
The quick turnaround of the first three rounds of the playoffs demands more attention. They watch film until it’s time to sleep and then wake up and take in a little more film early in the morning.
“We’ll call and text each other saying watch this play or asking what each other thinks about this play,” Hinkel said. “Maybe it’s not more time during the playoffs, but it’s just more condensed, so we are forced to do more in a shorter amount of time.”
The Regals’ depth have worn teams down, but the mid-game adjustments have been even more key to pulling away from opponents this year, winning by an average of 32 points, which is tops in 1A. Regina has trailed in two of its first three playoff games, but has not allowed a single second-half point. They stay calm and implement the plan, but the coaches’ efforts are worthless without execution.
“Ultimately, we never play a down out there and all the credit has to go to the kids,” said Dumont, noting the Regals switched the entire defensive game plan in last year’s state final and the players didn’t skip a beat. “We’ve been blessed with some great kids athletically, but they’ve also been pretty smart kids that have been able to make adjustments on the fly. They make us look like better coaches than we really are.”
North Fayette Valley (11-1) is in its first season after the merger of the North Fayette and Valley Community school districts. The Tigerhawks handled South Winneshiek, 49-14, to reach the semifinals for the ninth time overall. North Fayette had reached the semifinals seven previous times, while Valley Community advanced this far once.
Iowa City Regina (12-0) vs. North Fayette Valley (11-1)
Rankings: Regina is ranked first. North Fayette Valley is No. 8.
Radio: KXIC 800 AM.
TV: KCRG 9.2 at 10 a.m. Saturday
Notable: The Regals are making their fourth straight appearance in the state semifinals, winning the Class 1A title last year after two straight 2A championships. Regina also has the longest current win streak in the nation with 54 victories in a row, beating Maquoketa Valley, 24-7, in the quarterfinals. The Regals are one away from tying the state’s longest all-time win streak held by Waterloo East (1965-71) and two from tying the Trojans’ 56-game stretch without a loss. Regina has not allowed a point in the second half of three playoff games. Regina has outscored its opponents by an average of 32 points all season. The Regals have a balanced attack, consisting of more than 2,600 rushing yards and more than 2,100 through the air. Riley Dixon leads the Regals with 1,266 rushing yards and 15 TDs. Drew Cook has thrown for 2,025 yards and 20 TDs. Bryan Amelon leads the team in yards with 574 yards on 31 catches, and Nick Phillips has 44 catches for 478 yards. Both have seven TD receptions. North Fayette Valley, which advanced with a 49-14 win over South Winneshiek, is powered by a strong rushing attack. Josh Mackey and Derrick Kuehner lead the way. Mackey has 1,622 yards with 19 TDs, while Kuehner has 1,462 and 22 scores. Kuehner is the top target for quarterback Trevor Hurd, with 255 yards on 12 catches and a TD. Hurd has thrown for 759 yards and seven TDs. The Tigerhawk defense has forced 23 turnovers this season.
Waukon (11-1) vs. Albia (12-0)
Rankings: Waukon is ranked fourth. Albia is No. 2.
Radio: KNEI 103.5 FM
TV: KCRG 9.2 at 7:06 p.m. Saturday
Notable: The game features two balanced teams making their first state semifinal appearance in their programs’ histories. Waukon has been outstanding all season, except for a regular-season setback to New Hampton that it avenged with a decisive 36-0 win in the quarterfinals. The Indians have rolled over opponents, surrendering only 82 points all season and shutting out six opponents this season. Waukon has used a strong rush attack that amassed 3,035 yards, powered by Marcus Weymiller’s 1,358 yards and 23 touchdowns. Indians quarterback Parker Hesse has rushed for 1,077 yards and 21 TDs, adding 1,125 passing yards and 12 TDs through the air completing 65-percent of his passes. Oregon State recruit Glyeb Ewing leads the Indians with 92 tackles and 14 tackles for loss, tying teammate Seth Snitker with nine solo sacks. Albia has tallied more than 4,400 yards of total offense, including more than 3,000 rushing. The Blue Demons have a three-prong run game with three gaining more than 500 yards. Alex Schultz is the top back, gaining 967 yards and 13 TDs. Brett Leshen has thrown for 1,210 yards and 20 TD’s. Zach Hugen is Albia’s top receiver with 824 yards on 32 catches and 14 TDs.
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