To help put the Regina football team’s 47-game winning streak in perspective, consider this: Iowa senior linebacker James Morris was the star player for the last team to defeat Regina.
It occurred in the quarterfinals of the 2009 Class 2A playoffs when Morris was a record-breaking running back and linebacker and led Solon to a 42-7 victory over the Regals.
“Thanks for bringing that up,” Regina coach Marv Cook said Monday.
Regina finished 10-2 in 2009, also losing to Solon in the regular season.
But since the start of the 2010 season, Regina has been unstoppable with most of the 47 victories almost a foregone conclusion. You’d never get Cook to say that, not even privately, because Cook respects his opponents and the game too much to assume victory.
The statistics say it, though, loud and clear.
Regina has outscored its five opponents this season by a 217-42 margin, with Cardinal of Eldon the latest to get thumped, 51-0, this past Friday.
Last season, Regina outscored its five playoff opponents by a 22-point margin while marching to the Class 1A state title.
The 2010 Regina squad was even more dominant, outscoring its five playoff opponents by an incredible 203-14 margin while holding three of them scoreless.
And not to be out done, the 2011 Regina team scored 59, 55 and 56 points in its first three playoff games.
Standing in the way of victory No. 48 in a row is a 2-3 Alburnett team Friday in Alburnett. Regina defeated Alburnett 54-20 last season at home.
A 48th consecutive victory would move Regina into sole possession of third place for the longest winning streak among Iowa high school football teams. Regina is currently tied for third with West Des Moines Dowling (1966-71) and Anamosa (1937-45).
Waterloo East holds the record of 56 consecutive games without a loss, but one of those games ended in a tie, so the winning streak is actually just 55 games. Harlan has the second longest winning streak at 49 games, which stretched from 2003-06.
Regina would win 56 games in a row if it finishes 14-0 for a fourth consecutive season.
Cook rarely mentions the streak to his players, but rather uses it as silent motivation.
“I don’t want them to run away from it because they are a part of it,” Cook said of his players dealing with the winning streak. “They’ve got to control their part of it. That means managing this week and managing each practice and trying to maximize that opportunity that presents itself.”
Regina won its previous two games against Cardinal and Eddyville-Blakesburg, which was 3-0 at the time, by a 93-12 margin. And that was without star senior halfback Riley Dixon, who missed the last two games because of an ankle injury. Cook said Dixon is questionable for Friday’s game against Alburnett.
West Branch has come the closest to defeating Regina during the winning streak, losing 15-13 last season.
Spirit Lake also provided a scare, losing 24-20 in the 2011 state title game. Regina’s game before that in the semifinals was another rare close call, with the Regals edging Dyersville Beckman 35-28.
More times than not, though, Regina’s games are hopelessly one-sided and usually over by halftime. The continuous clock rule, which takes effect when a team leads by 35 points, was designed to control a machine like Regina.
Cook, a former NFL tight end and a consensus all-American at Iowa, is a gracious winner who often goes out of his way to keep the score down in lopsided games. But he also can’t tell his players to stop trying. You don’t practice all week and then give less than your best on Friday.
Cook has surrounded himself with a staff of former Iowa football players, including former defensive end Jason Dumont, who runs the Regina defense. Former Hawkeye receiver Ed Hinkle coordinates the offense and former Iowa defensive end and West High star Alex Kanellis coaches the offensive line and oversees the strength and conditioning program.
Together, they have turned what already was a good program into a great one.
Regina has taken the baton from Solon as the state’s most dominant high school football program regardless of class. Solon won 41 games in a row before losing to Regina in 2010.
Regina’s winning streak is currently tied with Ithaca, Mich., for the second longest active winning streak nationally, according to MaxPreps.com. The longest current winning streak belongs to Pahranagat Valley High School in Alamo, Nev., at 63 games, although it plays 8-man football.
Regina has made it this far with superior talent in many cases, but also with coaches who preach about living in the moment and who warn about the danger of becoming complacent.
“It’s one of those deals where if you don’t take care of business, you’re going to be in for a long night,” Cook said.
Cook was referring to Friday’s game against Alburnett. He basically says the same thing before every game, telling his players to seize the moment.
It’s hard to argue with a pregame speech that has worked 47 times in a row.
* OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Lone Tree junior quarterback Nick Viner passed for three touchdowns and ran for two more during Friday’s 39-20 victory over rival Highland. Viner passed for 207 yards, all of which came in the first half, and rushed for 129 yards. He had touchdown passes of 74, 85 and 30 yards, to go along with touchdown runs of 81 and 27 yards.
“This is the most fun I’ve ever had playing football,” Viner said. “And it makes it 10 times better playing Highland.”
* DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Mid-Prairie’s Zach Schwartz had 13 tackles during Friday’s 21-14 victory over Tipton. Schultz also caught two touchdown passes from quarterback Reid Miller.
* REPEAT PERFORMANCE: City High senior running back Xavier Washpun rushed for 222 yards against Dubuque Hempstead on Friday after rushing for 221 yards against Cedar Rapids Kennedy the week before.
The 5-foot-10, 200-pound Washpun is the second leading rusher in Class 4A with 890 yards and 10 touchdowns. He is averaging 8.1 yards per carry.
Ames senior Clifford Kwaw-Mensah is the leading rusher in Class 4A with 1,042 yards.
Washpun also sparked City on defense last Friday by ripping the football away from a Hempstead runner and returning it 35 yards for a touchdown.
* MIGHTY MICAH: West High (5-0) has shown that it can defeat opponents by using both power and finesse. Friday it was power’s turn to shine, thanks in large part to 215-pound fullback Micah Kelsay.
He rushed for 122 yards and scored three touchdowns to lift West to a 32-20 victory over Dubuque Senior.
“In my head, I thought, ‘Let’s get back to doing what we do,’ ” West coach Brian Sauser said after the game. “We’re going to line up and pound the football behind Kelsay.”