116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS — Extra points, field goals, kickoffs and kick returns.
Those are the exceptions for Preston Ries. The very few exceptions.
Every other second of every game sees the Monticello junior on the football field in a playing capacity.
“I’ve just always kind of been able to go, go, go, and not take a break,” Ries said. “It’s never really been too hard. I’ve always kind of had it in me, I guess.”
Tons of kids at the Class 2A level play both ways. That’s just the reality of the situation at smaller schools.
But take into consideration the positions Ries plays.
He’s Monti’s quarterback, someone who can wing it and run it with equal aplomb. He has 1,476 combined yards passing and rushing and 10 touchdowns in four games.
He’s also the punter for the Panthers and their leading tackler as a linebacker. A kid with six sacks and 11 tackles for loss.
It’s a lot of contact Ries makes and takes, but he keeps on going, going and going.
“As far as conditioning, I do the same as everyone else does,” Ries said. “I’ve just always been able to do it, and it hasn’t really affected me, as far as playing both ways. I guess maybe playing four sports helps a little bit.
“But I’ve just always kind of been able to just do it.”
Cue the Nike commercial.
“He’s so talented, it’s hard to get him off the field,” said Monticello Coach Wes Wilson. “He’s just never satisfied. He’s a kid who is always looking to get better, he’s always looking for that next challenge, and always challenging himself to do better. He works hard in the weight room, he works hard in the offseason. He’s just a competitor, competes every day in practice.
“Just one of those kids you don’t have to coach a whole lot. He really gets after it himself. It’s just been fun to see him grow.”
Wilson said he knew Ries was a special one when he first saw him in middle school. He could dunk a basketball in seventh grade.
But despite being a really good hooper, baseball player and track and field guy, Ries’ future is football. The solidly built 6-foot-2, 210-pounder has committed to the University of Iowa.
He’ll be a linebacker for the Hawkeyes, perhaps a version of Cooper DeJean, of sorts. DeJean was a prolific quarterback in high school at Ida Grove OABCIG in northwest Iowa before settling into a defensive back role for Iowa.
“It felt right. I knew that’s what I wanted,” Ries said of his early commit. “It was different when I went to Iowa, compared to all the other places. It was what was right for me, a great fit for me and my family. They really, really stood out, and I’ve always been an Iowa fan since I was really little.”
Monticello takes a 2-2 overall record into its district game Friday night against West Liberty. The losses were non-district tight ones to rivals Cascade, 21-13, and Dyersville Beckman, 28-14.
Ranked in the Top 10 preseason, the Panthers still have a lot of attainable goals on the table.
“We’re getting better,” Wilson said. “The line is young, we start four juniors. We’re trying to get those guys meshed together a little bit.”
He knows he’s got Ries to rely upon.
“He gives that dual-threat dimension as a quarterback that’s hard to stop,” Wilson said. “As a coach, you’re trying to scheme against (guys), and he’s someone you don’t want to play against because he can beat you with his feet. He’s so big and strong, it’s hard to bring him down with one guy. He runs through a lot of tackles. And he’s got an unbelievable arm, can throw it a long ways.
“He can make some throws in the high school game that most quarterbacks can’t make. You’re just kind of in awe of him sometimes with the things he does.”
Then there’s his defensive capabilities.
“You watch Iowa, and you see some of their linebackers,” Wilson said. “You see (Chad) Greenway and (Abdul) Hodge. You see (Josey) Jewell. You see a lot of these guys in the last 10 years or so come from small-town Iowa and make a huge impact. He kind of fits that mold. He’s a farm kid, strong, works hard, is athletic. A good frame, smart football player. We definitely see the potential there for him to go down to Iowa and make an impact for them.”