Your Prep Sports
IOWA CITY – When this week started, the Regina football team was scheduled to play Mid-Prairie on Friday in Wellman.
By late Wednesday afternoon, that game had been canceled due to health concerns with COVID-19, and Regina, for the second week in a row, was left scrambling for an opponent.
The Regals, who are in Class A, now are faced with a 350-mile round trip and will face one of the top teams in Class 2A when it travels to Clear Lake on Friday.
It might seem like an inconvenience, and it would be easy for the Regina players and coaches to complain or whine about the circumstances. But that hardly is the case during a global pandemic that has everybody on edge and trying to savor each moment and opportunity.
“There’s a lot of high school kids in the country that aren’t playing on Friday nights, and I think our kids understand that and they cherish the opportunity to be able to play and they’re excited about it,” said Regina head coach Marv Cook. “
Regina was scheduled to play Dyersville Beckman in the season opener last Friday, but that game was canceled due to Beckman having health concerns with the virus.
Regina then went searching for an opponent on the high school data base, and that led to a game against Class 4A Pleasant Valley, which prevailed 45-13 last Friday at Regina.
The Regals only had two days to prepare for Pleasant Valley’s triple-option attack, and now they’re in the same situation with Clear Lake, but the challenge from a football standpoint will be different because Clear Lake likes to spread the field on offense.
“They literally run a wide-open offense,” Cook said of Clear Lake. “They go empty. They go four wides. They stretch you sideline to sideline. They stretch you vertically.
“So it’s a completely different prep for us. But we’ve faced teams like this before. So it’s just a matter of refreshing and really kind of locking in with yesterday’s workout. And then today, we’ll have a really extensive walk through and really try to give them a good look at it. And hopefully, we’ll be ready when we line up on Friday.”
In addition to the intriguing matchup on the field against two perennial powers, the matchup between the two head coaches also has some intrigue.
Cook and Clear Lake head coach Jared DeVries were both consensus All-America football players at the University of Iowa, and they both had long and successful careers in the NFL.
Cook played tight end at Iowa from 1984 to 1988, while DeVries played on the Iowa defensive line from 1995-98.
Cook joked about coaching against DeVries.
“I’ve known Jared for a while,” Cook said. “Obviously, when he was at Iowa, I was a big fan and watched him play and what he accomplished.
“And it’ll be fun Friday night because it’ll probably one of the few times where I’ve really felt like I better not get mixed up with the other coach on the other sideline.”
DeVries is among 78 former college players who are on the 2021 College Football Hall of Fame ballot. Cook also has been on the Hall of Fame ballot before.
And now they’re both highly successful high school football coaches with Cook in his 14th season at Regina and DeVries in his sixth season at Clear Lake.
Cook has led Regina to six state titles, while Clear Lake has qualified for the playoffs in two of the last three seasons under DeVries, and 17 times since 2000.
Cook’s coaching staff also includes former Iowa football players Jason Dumont and Ed Hinkel, and they both know DeVries and that helped to secure the game on short notice.
“A couple schools we had heard of, but they had matched up already, so when we heard about Clear Lake, and obviously, a couple of our staff knows Jared so they reached out and they had an opening,” Cook said. “So that’s kind of how it all fell into place.”
Mid-Prairie was forced to cancel all of its activities due to COVID-19 concerns. It was reported that as of Wednesday evening, 77 students had been quarantined due to being in contact with a positive COVID-19 case, and after two students had tested positive for the virus.
Cook said the players and coaches will take a charted bus to Clear Lake and will leave Iowa City around 2:15 p.m. on Friday. The plan is to stop halfway to Clear Lake so they players can eat and get some nourishment before the game.
“We’ll let them get out and walk around a little bit and then get back on and get up there and play football,” Cook said.