Regina junior Jake Phillips looks for room to run against Solon on Friday. Jackie Blake Jensen/IC Pixx.By Pat Harty
Your Prep Sports
IOWA CITY – One of the state’s most storied and competitive high school football rivalries for once didn’t live up to the hype.
Actually, it did for one half as Regina broke open a close game against Solon by scoring four of its five touchdowns in the second half while cruising to a 34-0 victory on Friday at Regina.
“A shutout in any game is great,” said Regina all-state senior lineman Jared Brinkman. “But having it be Solon and all their tradition, it’s awesome.”
The Class 3A Spartans were coming off a victory over then top-ranked Mount Vernon last Friday, while Regina, which competes in Class 1A, was trying to bounce back from a 35-26 loss at Cedar Rapids Xavier last Friday.
“The first half is what I expected,” said Regina coach Marv Cook. “Honestly, our defense just had some great adjustments and I think that got them out of their comfort level a little bit. And then we made three or four really big plays in the second half and kind of broke it open.”
Solon took the opening kick and drove to the Regina 21-yard behind a mix of running and passing. However, the drive self-destructed when the Regals recovered a fumble by Solon tight end Jacob Coons on a pass play.
The Spartans lost another fumble in the first quarter after having marched again into Regina territory.
Solon’s defense stiffened after both fumbles and kept Regina from scoring any points.
The top-ranked Regals finally broke a scoreless tie when junior quarterback Michael Conlon scored on a 7-yard run with 51.9 seconds left in the second quarter.
The Regina defense helped set up the scoring drive by forcing Solon to punt after just three plays, giving the Regals a first down at the their own 49-yard line.
Regina senior quarterback Tommy Rapp throws a pass against Solon on Friday. Jackie Blake Jensen/IC Pixx.Jake Phillips caught a 13-yard pass on first down. Conlon then followed with an 8-yard reception on the next play while playing receiver. Senior quarterback Tommy Rapp then scrambled for 13 yards three plays later, giving Regina a first down at the Solon 9.
Rapp had to be helped off the field after his run with an apparent leg injury, but his night wasn’t over yet.
He returned in the third quarter long enough to complete an 84-yard touchdown pass to senior receiver Jack Jensen. Sam Stein made the point-after kick, expanding Regina’s lead to 20-0 with 5 minutes, 19 seconds left in the third quarter.
Regina also had scored a touchdown on its previous possession in the third quarter on a 7-yard run by Phillips, who finished with a game-high 139 rushing yards and three touchdowns on 14 carries.
Cook praised Rapp’s toughness, but was uncertain about Rapp’s medical status after the game.
“We’re still trying to evaluate that,” Cook said. “A tough kid, gritty. Watching him you’re not sure what is going to be the situation. But the doctors evaluated him. His parents got in the conversation. And to watch him come in under a great situation and execute a great play was exciting for us.”
But for Solon, Rapp’s long touchdown pass was a back breaker because it put the Spartans down by three touchdowns.
“They played outstanding,” Solon coach Kevin Miller said of Regina. “They played tough. They played hard, just fundamentally sound.
“But on the other end, we didn’t play very fundamentally sound. We just didn’t play our style of football tonight. But they had something to do with that.”
Solon had no answer for Regina’s rushing attack as the game progressed. The Regals finished with 288 rushing yards, while holding Solon to just 49 yards on the ground.
“You have to give all the credit to the (offensive) line,” said Phillips, who capped his night with a 55-yard touchdown run with just over 2 minutes left to play. “They had a tremendous game opening a lot of holes for the running backs and we were just lucky enough to come out on top.”
“I was just happy that the coaches called my name and hats off to the offensive line. They did all of it.”
It also helps that Regina has two reliable quarterbacks in Rapp and Conlon, whose contrasting styles make it hard for defenses to adjust. The 6-foot-3 Rapp is more of a passer, while the 5-foor-9 Conlon is a threat to run.
“It’s great just to be able to switch it on the go and keep playing hard,” Phillips said of having two quarterbacks.
Cook also appreciates having reliable options at quarterback.
“It’s been a blessing,” Cook said. “We’ve talked about whether you name a starter or not. They both will play and they both bring a lot to the table and help their team win.”
Conlon complemented Phillips on the ground by rushing for 102 yards on 14 carries. And like Phillips, Conlon gave all the credit to the offensive line.
“It was a big part of the game, the offensive line,” Conlon said. “The offensive line did an amazing job with the holes. They played amazing.”
It took a while for Regina’s rushing attack to start producing. Cook credited Regina offensive line coach Alex Kanellis for stressing the need to be patient and persistent with the running game.
“It was tough early,” Cook said. “Our first 15 rushes probably netted 50 yards if that. Coach Kanellis always talks about it: you’ve got to stick with it, you’ve got to stick with it. And we started to get some traction. Our guards felt like they could clean some things up and make some small adjustments and they did it.”
The Regals were in the unusual position on Friday of having to bounce back from a loss. The loss to Xavier was just the third for Regina in its last 86 games.
Regina also has won six consecutive state titles. So the players weren’t about to let one loss on the road to a Class 3A power hurt their confidence.
“We knew we had the talent to get the win,” said Brinkman, who has committee to Northern Iowa for football. “We just wanted to show that we were lacking anything from the guys we lost. I think we showed that pretty well. We came out and stopped a great Solon team. You can always expect them to be physical and fast and they were. They just beat the No. 1 team in the state last week. We just came out here and played great.”
First downs 6 16
Rushes-yards 26-49 48-288
Passing yards 80 156
Penalties/yards 3-40 7-90
Fumbles/lost 2-2 1-0
Punts 5-35.4 3-33.0
0 0 0 0 – 0
Regina 0 7 13 14 – 34
ICR – Michael Conlon 7 run (Sam Stein kick)
ICR – Jake Phillips 7 run (kick failed)
ICR – Jack Jensen 84 pass from Tommy Rapp (Stein kick)
ICR – Phillips 11 run (Stein kick)
ICR – Phillips 55 run (Stein kick)
Rushing – Solon: Kendrick Harris 15-36, Bryce West 3-15, Blayze Griffis 7-(-3). Regina: Jake Phillips 14-139, Michael Conlon 14-102, Isaac Vollstedt 14-25, Tommy Rapp 6-22.
Passing – Solon: Blayze Griffis 7-19-1 80. Regina: Tommy Rapp 7-11-0 141, Michael Conlon 4-6-0 15.
Receiving – Solon: Jacon Coons 3-24, Trevor Nelson 1-23, Bo Black 1-13, Jack Stahle 1-5. Regina: Phillips 2-19, Conlon 2-11, Trae Rogers 2-3, Isaac Vollstedt 1-23, Mason Simpson 1-9, Jack Jensen 1-84, Noah Felderman 1-4.