Cooke living up to expectations | NevadaAppeal.com

Cooke living up to expectations

Darrell Moody
dmoody@nevadaappeal.com

Carson High football coach Blair Roman raved about New Mexico transfer Patrick Cooke during spring practice, and said he was anxious to see how his new player would do when the pads came on in August.

Roman hasn’t been disappointed.

Cooke, a two-year starter at 5A Cleveland High School in Rio Rancho, New Mexico, is averaging five tackles per game with one quarterback sack from the defensive line.

Cooke leads a Carson defense – which has recorded back-to-back shutouts – against a potent Bishop Manogue offense at 1 p.m. today in a critical Northern 4A game.

“He’s a tough, physical player,” Roman said. “He’s lived up to everything I was told about him when I trying to find out about him. I didn’t talk to his old coach, but we did exchange some e-mails.

“He played very well against North Valleys, and he did a good job in that first game against Highland. The biggest thing I’ve seen lately is that he’s doing a good job of using his hands to play off and disengage from blocks.”

Jim Franz, the Senators’ defensive coordinator, has been impressed with Cooke’s versatility. He has used the 6-foot, 220-pound senior both at defensive end and defensive tackle, and the decision to do that is based on match-ups during a particular game.

“We didn’t know much about him, just that he played football and wrestled,” Franz said. “He worked hard in the weight room and he’s very strong off the ball.”

Cooke prefers playing defensive end or defensive tackle, but more importantly he just wants to be on the field every snap.

“Defensive end is a lot simpler,” Cooke said. “I feel like I do better there. I can get a lot more tackles (and sacks).

“I’m doing all right. The first game (against Highland) was really hard. I feel I should have done a lot better. I’ve had two pretty good games since. The North Valleys game was my best (11 tackles). I played well against Hug, but the first group didn’t play that long because of the score (45-0 early in second period).”

Cooke expects a struggle today against Manogue and its star runner Kenny Rogers.

“He (Rogers) looks like he’s hard to bring down, but I think we can do it,” Cooke said. “He runs hard, but we have a good defense. It will be a challenge.”

For now, Cooke is a one-way player, though.

“He might have a role in our offense as a blocking back kind of guy,” Roman said. “You might see him evolve into that role as the season goes on.”

“If they wanted me to play A-back, I’d do it,” Cooke said. “I’ll play wherever they want me to.”

Cooke came to Carson because his father had an opportunity to manage Smith’s, located on Highway 50.

The Carson senior admitted he had qualms about having to leave his old school, and who can blame him. Cleveland is ranked No.1 in the state with a 6-0 record.

“There wasn’t much I could do,” he said. “The guys back home were upset that I left. I still keep in contact with them.

“I’m glad that I was able to get into a good program. I got to know a lot of people when I first got here (in the spring). I was taking a weights class, so I got to know most of the football players.”

Cooke said he spends most of his time on and off the field with Chance Quilling, Logan Peternell and Clint Page.

Cooke was a member of the track team last spring, throwing the shot and discus for Mike Louisiana. When football is over, he’ll probably go straight into wrestling where he was an all-5A performer last year.

The newest Senator said there doesn’t seem to be a huge difference between football here and in New Mexico.

“There are a few more schools there,” he said. “Northern Nevada has some speed, but not as much size.”