During his collegiate playing career, Marv Cook experienced plenty of Big Ten football games in the month of November.
During Cook’s eight-year coaching career at Regina, the former Iowa standout has made winning games in November a regular occurrence.
To Cook, coaching or playing — in the Big Ten or prep playoffs — comes down to two things: running the football and playing defense.
Fortunately for Cook, his top-ranked Regals are doing those two things as well as anyone entering today’s Class 1A quarterfinal matchup with Central Decatur (9-2) at 7 p.m. at Regina Field.
“It’s a little bit like the Big Ten in November. When you get to this time of year, you need to run the ball and play great defense,” Cook said. “It’s going to be cold and they’re talking about some wind, so we need to be able to rely on those two things.”
The Regina offense has grabbed the headlines in the first two rounds of the playoffs.
Regina has averaged 61.5 points and 469.5 total yards in a pair of playoff wins.
The Regals have been especially dominant on the ground in the postseason, averaging 280 rushing yards and six rushing touchdowns per game in two postseason wins, highlighted by a season-high 378 rushing yards in an opening-round win over Alburnett.
“I think we have just consistently gotten better,” Cook said. “I think everyone is feeling more comfortable with just the timing of the offense, and we are getting everybody settled in.”
The Regina defense has been nearly as impressive.
In its first two playoff games, the Regina defense hasn’t allowed a point in the first half and is holding opponents to 9.5 points and 235 total yards.
“We are blessed to have so many returning linebackers,” Cook said of the defensive success. “Justin Hunter played last year, Cliff Wagner played a little bit, Jake Brinkman and Michael Adam have been three-year starters for us, and to have that kind of leadership in there has been phenomenal. Those four guys are about as good as it gets.”
Regina’s defense will try to do something tonight that no team has been able to do this season: slow down Trenton Wells.
The Central Decatur senior quarterback ranks third in Iowa in total offense, averaging 304 total yards per game.
Wells has thrown for 1,558 yards but has done even more damage on the ground, running for a team-high 1,708 yards and 26 touchdowns.
“Their quarterback is obviously an incredibly talented kid,” Cook said of Wells. “He does a good job of leading their offense. He is a great decision maker, and they want the ball in his hands. It’s in his hands almost every snap, and he’s an extremely talented football player.”
Reach Ryan Murken at 339-7369 or firstname.lastname@example.org.