Photo by Jeff Yoder
Your Prep Sports
IOWA CITY – Playing in back-to-back state title games while posting a 21-5 record would rank among the best runs ever for many prep football programs.
At Regina that same two-year stretch serves as a source of motivation for more.
Runner-up finishes the past two seasons ended a six-year title run for Regina and have the Regals seeking a return to the top of Class 1A.
“It hurts when you get that far and don’t win it but it drives you even more the next year,” Regina senior Kieler Brown said. “It’s been a big thing for us to hopefully get back there again and finish with a win.”
Regina finished the season with a win, and a state title six consecutive seasons from 2010 to 2015 rolling up a stagger 82-2 record in the process.
The Regals went 11-2 in 2016 falling to Western Christian in the 1A title game and capped a 10-3 season a year ago with a 28-7 title game loss to Van Meter.
Everyone at Regina, starting with the coaching staff is intent on a return to championship form this season.
“Honestly we’ve kind of looked at it as coaches that we need to up our game too,” Regina coach Marv Cook. “We’ve been there the last two years and haven’t been able to punch through and we want our kids to be able to experience that and we are going to do everything we possibly can to help make that happen.”
There will be plenty of new players in key roles for Regina this season with only five full-time starters returning.
Regina won’t lack talent.
Already a two-year starter senior Luke Stein (6-2, 220) is back to anchor both lines while the Regals brings back its top tacklers from a season ago in senior linebacker Nick Milder (5-10, 180).
“You have a new group of leaders, you have guys that are going to be asked to play and work in different positions for the good of the team and it’s always fun to watch guys accept that role and go that way but we’ve got some guys,” Cook said. “We’ve got some guys that can play.”
Sophomore Ashton Cook takes over at quarterback full-time after passing for 640 yards and four touchdowns in a reserve role a year ago.
The 6-foot-4 left-hander will have a strong stable of receivers at his disposal led by a trio of returning starters.
Patrick Clark (6-3, 190), Alec Wick (6-0, 160) and Scott Arndt (6-2, 180) combined for 64 receptions for 828 yards and five touchdowns last season.
“I think we are going to be balanced,” Brown said. “We are going to have a good mix of big, tall, strong guys at receiver that we can lean on for a big catch but we also have the small quick guys so I think it’s going to be a good balance of that.”
Regina must restock its running back stable with the loss of Jake Phillips and Isaac Vollstedt but Brown returns after averaging 7.9 yards per carry in a limited role.
“We are going to be a little bit more even than past years,” Arndt said. “We don’t have the guy that we can just hand it off to 20 times we have to work a little bit harder.”
As the players continue to change at Regina the expectations and goals continue to remain the same.
“We want to win a state championship, that’s for sure always the goal,” Brown said. “Everyone talks about it here you want to win one we don’t really shy away from that.”