Drew Cook is having too much fun being a part of the Regina football dynasty to worry about the unique circumstances under which he performs.
It’s challenging enough being the starting quarterback as a junior for the Regals, who will face Fort Dodge St. Edmond in the Class 1A title game at 11 a.m. Friday at the UNI-Dome in Cedar Falls.
But Cook’s father, Marv Cook, also is the Regina coach and a former University of Iowa all-America tight end who earned all-Pro accolades in the NFL.
Each of the previous three Regina quarterbacks — Jack Verducci in 2010, Nate Streb in 2011 and Mark Ward in 2012 — also earned all-state recognition while leading the Regals to state titles and undefeated seasons.
And, of course, there is the winning streak — which would grow to a state-record 56 games with a victory Friday — that has accompanied the team throughout the season.
“The streak is always there,” Drew Cook said Wednesday before practice. “But I give credit to all the teams in the years ahead of us that have gotten us to this position where we can be in.
“It’s a lot of fun every week trying to add on to the streak. And now that we’ve got a chance to set the state record in this game, that’s pretty awesome. It’s been a really great year.”
The younger Cook, who stands 6-foot-5 and weighs 205 pounds, is quick to deflect praise to his older teammates.
“This is the seniors’ team,” Drew Cook said. “Every year it’s the seniors’ team. They’ve been doing a great job, and I love watching the leadership that they show. Everyone follows their example.
“What I do is I just do my job and try to lead by example as a junior.”
Drew Cook is the first junior to start at quarterback for Regina since Verducci earned that distinction in 2009. Cook has picked up where his three celebrated predecessors left off by passing for 2,386 yards and 21 touchdowns in 13 games. He also has thrown just three interceptions and is completing 66.9 percent of his passes.
“I’ve had the privilege to watch Jack Verducci, Nate Streb and Mark play, and they were great quarterbacks, and I learned so much from them,” Drew Cook said. “Now, this year is my turn and I really wanted to prove what I can do. And I’ve really been having a lot of fun.”
Drew Cook is similar to his father in many ways, including size and skill sets. Marv was a celebrated quarterback at West Branch High School before switching to tight end at Iowa to play sooner.
Marv Cook also was a standout basketball player in high school, as is Drew, who led Regina in scoring as a sophomore last season. Drew also was good enough to play in the Prime Time League this past summer.
“Honestly, it’s not even close,” Marv Cook said. “He’s so much further along than where I was athletically and just physically and I think with his grasp of the game.”
Even though his father starred as a tight end, Drew Cook always has wanted to play quarterback and is determined to play the position in college. Drew and his father both have heard the speculation that Drew likely would have to switch to a different position in college, but it only helps to fuel the fire.
“I’m a quarterback,” Drew Cook said. “I’ve always dreamed of being a quarterback. And that’s what I want to do. If the opportunity presented itself where I had to change positions, I just want to play football. I just want to play college football at the next level.”
Drew struggles to pick a favorite sport between football and basketball, although he thinks he has more potential in football.
“I’m one of those people that if you ask me what sport I like best, I’ll say I like the season I’m in,” Drew Cook said.
Marv Cook said he’s capable of separating the father from the coach when evaluating his son’s potential at quarterback. Marv thinks Drew has a future at quarterback in college.
Drew is just starting to gain interest as a quarterback prospect from schools in the Big Ten, the Big 12 and the Ivy League.
“I think that’s where he naturally fits,” Marv Cook said. “We’re going to continue to work on the mechanical issues. And he gets better at it every week. He’s still got a ways to go. I’m not going to sit here and tell you that he’s ripping it and doing everything perfectly. But he’s moving in the right direction, and that’s what I love about him.”
Marv also likes his son’s work ethic and his attention to detail.
“He really does take to learning,” Marv Cook said. “We’ll work on the smallest detail when it comes to a mechanical issue. And we’ve had him at three or four different quarterback camps and with quarterback instructional guys, and it’s fun to watch him, the way he works in the mirror afterward going through the mechanical stuff that the coaches are telling him. It’s a real methodical process.”
Judging from his most recent performance, Drew Cook appears to be peaking at the right time. He accounted for 396 yards — including 307 passing yards — during the 45-21 victory over North Fayette Valley in the semifinals Saturday.
“We actually did some things in the semis that we hadn’t done,” Marv Cook said. “I think it’s the way we need to move forward with our offense. It’s exciting when you have the type of players that can adapt to that stuff and continue to move it forward instead of just doing the same thing over and over again.”
Marv expected his son to play well, but Drew’s running ability has been a pleasant surprise. He rushed for 60 yards in the semifinal victory.
“I guess I didn’t expect the running part,” Marv Cook said. “He’s been an effective runner for us.”
Drew Cook cherishes the opportunity to play for his father.
“I love playing under my dad,” Drew said. “I look up to him and I love him. He gets on me pretty good. And I enjoy that because I know he’s making me better every day. We can both relate to each other because of our love for the game. He loves football. And that’s just something we can talk about it.”
Drew and his father also are quick to praise Regina offensive coordinator Ed Hinkel and strength and conditioning coach Alex Kanellis for Drew’s success this season. Hinkel played receiver at Iowa from 2002-05, while Kanellis graduated from West High in 2005 and played defensive end for the Hawkeyes.
“My dad always says every day you’re either getting better or you’re getting worse,” Drew Cook said. “And I try to get better every day. And I feel like I am. Working with coach Hinkel, I mean, how many guys can say I get to work with coach Hinkel? I’m working with him every day and he’s going to make me better.”
Kanellis has focused on making the younger Cook bigger and stronger. Drew said he has grown about 3 inches and gained about 25 pounds in the past year.
“Coach Kanellis is my hero because I wouldn’t be the person I am without him. And we wouldn’t be the same team without him. The work and dedication he puts in to improving this program, I can’t thank him enough.”