Prep Football

Marv Cook, Jared DeVries do midweek scramble to get Iowa City Regina, Clear Lake football teams to meet

Former Hawkeyes are prep head coaches who lost opponents to COVID-19 cancellations

Iowa City Regina head football coach Marv Cook huddles with his team after its state playoff semifinal loss to Van Meter
Iowa City Regina head football coach Marv Cook huddles with his team after its state playoff semifinal loss to Van Meter at the UNI-Dome in Cedar Falls on Nov. 16, 2019. The Regals have won six state championships under Cook. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)

It’s been the scheduling equivalent of drawing up plays in the dirt for two former University of Iowa football stars and NFL veterans who are high school head coaches.

Marv Cook of Iowa City Regina and Jared DeVries of Clear Lake had a problem Wednesday. Their teams’ opponents for Friday night both canceled in midweek because of COVID-19.

Clear Lake was to have hosted Osage, but one person within Osage’s football program tested positive. At Mid-Prairie, which was to face Regina Friday, several dozen students have been quarantined because of contact tracing.

So, with Regina assistant coach Jason Dumont (another former Hawkeye player) involved in setting it up, the Regals agreed to go to Clear Lake Friday to play DeVries’ Lions.

“The 172 miles, I’m not exactly a big fan of that,” Cook said Thursday. “But at the end of the day, our kids get a chance to go play another game. You’ve got a chance today, so go see what the day offers.”

“We were both saying we might lose a game, so why not play each other?” DeVries said. “Both administrations and coaching staffs were able to work it out.

“We’re really happy to have the opportunity to play Friday night. We look forward to it every week.”

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For Regina, it’s a second straight week of scrambling. Its scheduled first-game opponent, Dyersville Beckman, had to cancel because a player and coach had tested positive for COVID-19. In midweek, Class 4A Pleasant Valley filled the vacancy and won at Regina, 45-13

Regina is 148-20 under 14th-year coach Cook, so it’s not intimidated by big-school programs. Clear Lake is a Class 2A team, ranked third in this week’s Gazette/KGYM high school poll. Regina is No. 2 in Class A.

Again this week, Regina couldn’t prepare for its opponent until two days before the game.

“It’s tough,” Cook said. “Last week we faced a triple-option, which is a tough prep to say the least. This week it’s wide open. It’s empty (backfield) with four receivers wide. They spread the field from sideline to sideline, so it’s a completely different prep for our guys.

“So that’s been the hardest part, not having Monday and Tuesday to get ready for the upcoming opponent. But at the end of the day they can only rush 11 and we can only rush 11. It’s football.”

DeVries’ team, which won its scheduled game against Aplington-Parkersburg last Friday, had the same amount of time to study Regina as Cook’s Regals did for Clear Lake.

“You’ve just got to fall back on your teachings and concepts,” DeVries said. “We’re fairly simple. We tell the kids it doesn’t matter who the opponent is, it’s how we execute.”

In the end, this is a love story. The coaches love coaching the players. The players love playing.

“I love it,” DeVries said, “being around the kids.”

“We have truly enjoyed the time we’ve been able to share on the football field,” Cook said. “We tell the kids to cherish every day of this they get, and I think they’ve done a good job with embracing that. I think our kids have rallied around the fact we’re going get two hours a day to practice or play football.”

That’s why you get on a bus for 172 miles to north Iowa to play a bigger school with a really good team.

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The seasons are crumbling at some schools, and will crumble at more. Yes, it’s a long ride from Iowa City to Clear Lake and a long ride home. But it will be a longer night at Mid-Prairie and Osage and everywhere else the seasons have paused.

“Welcome to the new world,” Cook said with a sigh.

Comments: (319) 368-8840; mike.hlas@thegazette.com

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