Jared Brinkman snaps the ball against Solon. Jackie Blake Jensen/IC Pixx.By Ryan Murken
Your Prep Sports
IOWA CITY – Six years ago Reagan Ries and his junior high buddies sat in the UNI-Dome bleachers doing the math.
As Regina put the finishing touches on a 21-0 shutout of North Polk in the 2010 Class 2A state title game Ries and his classmates began counting up where a possible state title streak would be at for the Regals when they were seniors.
“I remember sitting in the stands and all the guys in our grade were there and we were like ‘wow when we are seniors it’s going to be seven’, that would be sweet if we had the chance to do that,” Ries recalled. “I actually remember sitting there thinking about that.”
Six years later, Ries and his teammates have a chance to make that dream a reality.
Regina has added state titles in each of the past five seasons since the 2010 crown that got Ries and his classmates thinking.
Top-ranked Regina (9-1) will try to take another step at making it seven in a row when it hosts No. 2 Pella Christian (10-0) on Friday in a 1A quarterfinal at Regal Field.
“We were sitting there at the state championship the first year thinking about if we won every single one in a year it would be seven,” Ries said “We thought that would be crazy, we thought that would never happen and to be able to go for it this year it’s a dream come true.”
Ries had plenty of company in the UNI-Dome stands back in 2010.
Classmate Jared Brinkman was there, so was junior George Sehl along with plenty of other current Regals.
Every title during the six-year streak for the Regals has been special for that trio for the same reason.
Brinkman, Ries and Sehl all had older brothers that helped Regina lay the ground work for its state-best string of titles.
“There are five or six different championship games that they have had a sibling on so those parents have been to a lot of different games and seen a lot of great football games,” Regina coach Marv Cook said. “There is definitely a family atmosphere to it.”
Ries watched his older brother Zach help start the streak with titles in 2010 and 2011. His brother Adam was part of the first four titles, going unbeaten during his high school career.
“It’s pretty awesome to see that my brothers have been able to help set the ground work.” Ries said. “Hopefully I can just live up to what they have set as the expectation.”
Sehl spent most of his childhood at Regina games as older brothers Mike and George were on titles teams in 2010 through 2014.
Brinkman has been around the program just as long with his father Mike on the coaching staff.
His older brother Jake was a part of state title teams from 2011 to 2014.
“My dad has been coaching since I was young so I’ve always been part of the program but when I saw my brother out there I wanted to be out there with him,” Brinkman said. “I wanted to be doing what he was doing.”
The trio of Brinkman, Ries and Sehl grew up attending road games and making the occasional practice.
Mostly they dreamed about what it would be like to win their own titles.
Out of the shadows of their older siblings the trio helped Regina win a state title last year.
This year the three combine to give Regina one of the top offensive lines in Class 1A and one of the best interior lines around.
“It’s always been in the back of our mind but now that it’s time for it to happen it’s like wow we have been sitting here thinking about it and now we actually have to go out and do it and finish this goal that we set out in sixth grade.
“We’ve definitely improved and I think become a strength for our team,” Sehl said of the line. “We’ve done a lot of work, a lot drills and we talk a lot. We’ve improved a lot.”
The 6-0, 270-pound Ries and 6-foot-3, 270-pound Sehl start at guard alongside Brinkman, a 6-foot-2, 270-pound stalwart at center.
Together the group has helped Regina rush for 254 yards per game while averaging 7.4 yards per carry.
Regina has scored at least three rushing touchdowns in every game during its current nine-game winning streak.
“I think it is our strength,” Cook said of the offensive line “Our one constant has been those big guys up front.”
For the Ries, Brinkman and Sehl families the constant has been winning.
There has been a Ries and a Sehl brother on every state title team and only one state title came without a Brinkman in a Regina uniform.
This week those older siblings are giving advice and providing motivation as Regina tries to run its postseason winning streak to 32 straight while advancing to the state semifinals for the seventh year in a row
“I’m sure he would give me a hard time if we didn’t win it but at the end of everything he wants us to do us,” Jared Brinkman said of brother Jake. Everyone who ever played here wants us to do it so it’s just a matter of finishing.”