Regina senior Jack Jensen runs against Solon. Jackie Blake Jensen/IC Pixx. By Ryan Murken
Your Prep Sports
IOWA CITY – Jack Jensen knows all about the tradition that has been built over the last decade at Regina and not just the one that includes wins and championships.
Sure, Jensen is aware of the six consecutive state titles and the 86-3 the Regals have rolled up over the past six and a half seasons.
As a senior Jensen has been a part of three of those titles and his main focus this season is helping Regina add an unprecedented seventh consecutive title.
Yet, Jensen is also well versed in another tradition that has developed during Regina’s state championship reign, a run of all-state receivers.
“We’ve definitely had a lot of great receivers here,” Jensen said. “It’s been nice I’ve had a lot of guys to look up to.”
Regina has had an all-state receiver four times during its string of six consecutive state titles and another year the Regals’ top pass catcher was an all-state defensive back.
Departed senior Nick Phillips added to that list last season when he earned second team all-state honors.
Now, Jensen is trying to add his own name to that list of all-state Regina pass catchers.
“Guys like Nick Phillips and Ethan Suchomel, they were good role models for me,” Jensen said. “Those guys set a good example of how to work hard in practice and play hard.”
Regina senior Jack JensenAfter playing mostly in the shadow of seniors like Suchomel and Phillips last fall, Jensen is putting together his own all-state worthy campaign in his final season.
Jensen has already equaled his reception total from a year ago, leading Class 1A top-ranked Regina (4-1) with 20 catches for 360 yards and four touchdowns.
He enters Friday’s District 4 meeting with No. 8 Wilton (5-0) ranked in the top 10 in Class 1A in both receptions and receiving yards and his four scoring grabs tie for 11th.
“Towards the end of last season he really started to come around and was playing really well,” Regina offensive coordinator Ed Hinkel said. “We felt coming into this year that he was going to be a guy that we were going to need to get the ball to and rely on and he’s been that guy.”
Jensen wants to leave his mark as one of the great receivers at Regina.
That doesn’t mean he has individual goals above wins. In fact, it’s just the opposite for the team-first Jensen.
“He’s a great teammate, a great team guy, he’s quiet and he just kind of does what you ask him to do,” Regina coach Marv Cook said. “He’s a treat to coach that way.”
Some receivers demand the ball.
Jensen isn’t the type of guy to say anything much less make a demand.
“I don’t even know if I’d know his voice if he talked,” Hinkel joked. “He’s so quiet.”
Jensen hasn’t needed to talk much this season; his performance has said plenty.
He had a career-high seven receptions for 117 yards in a season-opening loss to Class 3A top-ranked Cedar Rapids Xavier and hasn’t slowed down since.
Jensen has caught a touchdown pass in each game during Regina’s current four-game winning streak and is averaging 18 yards per grab this season.
“It’s a team game,” Jensen said. “I’m confident in our team that they will block for us, the line does great protecting the quarterback and the quarterbacks do a great of getting us the ball.”
Jensen caught 20 passes for 263 yards last season, with most of that production coming after Phillips was lost for the season with an injury in week eight.
This season Jensen has taken over as the unquestioned leader of the receiving corps and performed like a true number one receiver.
He has at least three catches in every game but one despite working with two different quarterbacks as junior Michael Conlon has stepped in for injured senior Tommy Rapp who has missed the last three games.
“He’s a heck of a receiver,” Hinkel said. “We try to do whatever we can to get him the ball at least a couple of times a game.”
At 5-foot-9, 141-pounds Jensen can’t match the size of most of the all-state pass catchers that came before him at Regina.
Five games into his senior season Jensen has matched their production.
Over the past six seasons first team all-state picks Alex Balke and Nathan Stenger are the only Regina receivers to have more than 800 yards.
Balke had 845 yards on 51 catches in 2012 and Stenger grabbed 38 passes for 801 yards in 2014.
Jensen could approach those numbers if he continues his path of production.
“I like a big receiver, I’ve always liked a big receiver it fits my eye as a coach but Jack is so elusive and he’s so dynamic in and out of breaks and out of cuts he’s just hard to defend if you try to go one-on-one with him,” Cook said. “I like having that too.”