Regina’s coaches and players say that their playoff quarterfinal game tonight against Maquoketa Valley is like looking into a mirror.
“They’ve got a really good back, a really good receiver and a really good quarterback,” Regina coach Marv Cook said of the Wildcats. “Just a nice core group of guys. On film, those guys stand out, but then they’ve got a solid nucleus of a great team and a sound package both offensively and defensively.
“To be honest with you, they are a lot like us.”
Maquoketa Valley sophomore running back Ryan Parmely has run for 1,116 yards and 15 touchdowns and averages 7.7 yards per carry. He ran for 169 yards against Wilton in the last playoff game.
Cook said he’s a tough runner who gains a lot of yards after initial contact.
“He’s a complete back, a physical guy who has a little bit of scat to him,” Cook said.
Junior quarterback Ben Dzaboff has completed 73-of-125 passes (.584) for 1,103 yards and seven touchdowns. He’s also rushed for 688 yards (5.7 per carry), and Carter Funke has run for nearly 500 yards.
“They want to spread it out and have a zone read inside and throw it and really stretch the field,” Cook said. “Athletically they have the guys who can do that. They spread it out and then Parmely hits it inside.
“That’s the beauty of the zone, it creates a lot of extra area in there, and if he finds those pockets and gets it inside, then he’s tough to get on the ground.”
Regina defender Elliott Halsch explained the theory of the scheme.
“They try to catch us out of position,” he said.
Clearly Maquoketa Valley wants to be able to establish its running game. About 70 percent of its offense comes on the ground and that’s likely what Regina will focus on stopping.
“I think it almost makes it easier because we’ve seen it (in practice),” Halsch said of the Wildcats’ similar blocking scheme. “We’re ready for it. We know the assignments we have.”
The Wildcats’ leading receiver is Jobe Ellison who has 32 receptions for 540 yards (16.9 per catch) and four touchdowns.
They average 333 total yards of offense and 31 points per game.
Regina counters with a defense that had trouble initially stopping West Branch’s running game Monday but re-established itself midway into the second quarter and then stopped the Bears cold.
“Yeah, but that game is behind us,” Daniel Gaffey said. “We have to focus on this one now.”
The Regals’ defense is based on effort, pursuit and the discipline to stay with your assignments.
“Make sure you go hard on every play and you’re not getting pushed around,” Halsch said.
Defensively, the Wildcats use a 4-4 unless presented with a spread formation and they go 4-2. Their defense is giving up an average of 23.3 points per game.
It would seem that Regina will be able to move the ball on the Wildcats. No team has really shut down the Regals. But it might be a pretty good idea to get ahead so the Wildcats don’t have a chance to eat up the clock with their own running game as they did in the second half against Wilton.
Cook said Regal running back Riley Dixon’s status will be a game-time decision.
“He’s fine. I think it’s a sprain,” Cook said. “He’s able to jog a little bit. It’s not as bad as we initially thought.”
Dixon, who leads the Regals with 1,277 yards rushing, was hurt against West Branch in one of the last plays of the game and was on crutches and wearing a protective boot after the game.