Regina senior Jared Brinkman gets blocked against Solon on Sept. 2. Jackie Blake Jensen/IC Pixx. By Ryan Murken
Your Prep Sports
IOWA CITY – The UNI-Dome is a special place for anyone involved in high school football in Iowa.
For Mike Brinkman every trip to the UNI-Dome is a little extra special.
During his playing days at Northern Iowa the Dome was home for Brinkman.
As a coach the Dome has provided Brinkman with more great moments over the past 10 seasons.
A long-time assistant coach on Marv Cook’s Regina coaching staff, Brinkman has been a part of six consecutive state title wins, each celebrated on the UNI-Dome turf.
“Every time we show up I say ‘this place never gets old to me’,” Brinkman said. “A lot of great memories as a player and now as a coach, it’s just a wonderful place for me.”
Of all the memories Brinkman has experienced under the UNI-Dome roof none shine brighter than the ones he has shared with his sons.
Brinkman has shared a state title with one of his sons Jake and Jared each of the past five seasons dating back to Jake’s freshman season in 2011.
The Brinkman family will try to add one more title and one more collection of UNI-Dome memories on Friday when Mike, Jared and top-ranked Regina (11-1) faces No. 5 Western Christian in the 2A title game at 11:06 a.m.
“Having the chance to coach my kids there has just added another element to what that place has meant to me,” Mike Brinkman said. “It’s been special.”
Every coach aspires for an opportunity to coach at the pinnacle of their sport.
Brinkman has gotten the chance to coach his own kids on the state’s biggest stage five different times.
Jared Brinkman snaps the ball against Solon. Jackie Blake Jensen/IC Pixx.
It is what Mike Brinkman was doing as a youth coach for his sons that made him one of the first people Cook contacted when he was hired at Regina.
“When I was younger and we were coaching our kids I just always admired the way that he coached youth sports,” Cook said of Mike Brinkman. “When I first started getting the job here he is one of the first people I thought of along with (defensive coordinator) Jason (Dumont).”
Both Brinkman boys flourished at Regina.
Jake was an all-state linebacker and running back that was part of four Regina title teams from 2011 to 2014 before continuing his career at North Dakota State where he is a freshman linebacker.
One of the top two-way lineman in the state and a Northern Iowa commit, Jared will try to follow in his older brother’s footsteps and add a fourth state title on Friday.
“It’s awesome to leave off my high school career where I’m starting my career at the UNI-Dome,” Jared Brinkman said. “It’s just fun that I can be there with all these guys that I’ve been playing with since fourth or fifth grade one more time.”
A first-team all-state pick last year as a junior, Jared Brinkman has cemented his status as one of the best players in the state this fall.
As a center, Jared Brinkman is the anchor of a Regina offensive line that ranks among the best in any class.
The 6-foot-2, 270-pound Brinkman has helped pave the way for Regina to rush for 258 yards per game this season.
“He could play any position on the line on either side of the ball,” Cook said. “He would be a great guard but he is just a phenomenal center for us. Some of the blocks that he was finishing on Saturday were just amazing.”
It is on the defensive line, where Mike serves as his position coach, where Jared has taken his game to another level.
Projected as a defensive lineman in college, the same spot his father played, Jared Brinkman has become almost impossible to block.
“With his power that he has developed and his speed, he’s the best lineman in the state as far as I’m concerned,” Mike Brinkman said.
The stats back up Mike Brinkman’s assessment.
Jared Brinkman leads Regina with 64 tackles, 59 which are solo stops and has 6.5 sacks while rotating between defensive tackle and defensive end.
“You talk about guys that impact the game and change the game and change the way people game plan for the game he is as good as it gets,” Cook said.
The younger Brinkman credits working with his father for his success.
“I love it,” Jared Brinkman said of having Mike as his position coach. “He really can break stuff down with me and he really likes to nitpick at me so sometimes it’s hard but it makes me a better player.”
It’s not always easy having your father and toughest critic coaching you every day.
Both Mike and Jared admit sometimes football follows them home after practice or games.
Neither would change a thing over the past four years.
“We get to spend extra time together that a lot of guys don’t get to spend with their dads so that’s nice but there is always that coach player aspect and we take that home sometimes,” Jared Brinkman said. “We might be mad at each other sometimes but it’s been great. I’ve enjoyed it all.”
Friday’s title game will be the end of an era at Regina, regardless of whether or not the Regals run their title streak to seven straight.
The final game of Jared’s career will be the final game for Mike as a coach.
Along with his wife Carla, Mike has attended all of Jake’s college games this season. As Jared begins his collegiate career Mike doesn’t want to miss a thing.
“The biggest reason is now my kids are moving on to the next chapter and now as a parent I don’t want to miss anything,” Mike Brinkman said. “Carla and I are the biggest fans. I just love seeing them out there. I’m going to miss this, there are going to be a lot of things that I miss but I wouldn’t trade it for anything.”