Westbrook’s football team has only one Tony Cook. After Friday’s 50-6 loss to Portland, they still only have one win.

The two are related.

Cook, a linebacker, was all over the field during Portland’s opening possession. He had three tackles in the first five plays as Westbrook forced Portland to turn the ball over on downs.

“He has one speed – fast,” said his coach Jason McLeod. “He plays end-to-end. He doesn’t play to the whistle, he plays through the whistle. It’s something we are harping on for the kids to do all the time but realistically it is not something you can teach. You just have to have the determination and desire.”

Portland scored on its next four possessions to take a 29-0 lead by halftime. Cook had eight tackles in the game’s first 24 minutes.

With his team trailing big, Cook, a senior, came out of halftime with the same intensity. He made a key open-field tackle to force Portland into a fourth-and-12 situation at Westbrook’s 30-yard line.

“I don’t think he ever looks at the scoreboard,” said McLeod. “If he does he is fooling a lot of people.”

Portland’s next play was a microcosm of Westbrook’s season. Good things were done, but the results just weren’t there.

Portland quarterback Chris Treister dropped backed to pass but was flushed from the pocket by the Westbrook pass rush.

With all his receivers covered by the Blue Blazes’ secondary, Treister was forced to scramble and scramble he did. Back-and-forth he went from one sideline to the other and back again.

Finally, trapped by Westbrook’s defense, Treister loaded, aimed and fired to his tight end, 6-foot-5, 295-pound Justin Powell. Powell rose over a Westbrook cornerback at the goal line, catching Treister’s pass for a touchdown – 35-0 Portland.

“We had three guys swarming on Treister,” Cook said. “He was just being an athlete. (Powell) was covered but we had a cornerback that was five, maybe 10 inches shorter than him.”

It’s been that kind of year for Westbrook, but Cook, who also plays receiver on offense, refuses to hang his head.

“I might as well go out and show the best I’ve got,” said Cook. “I am playing with guys I grew up with and I love. I am not going to let them down and I know they aren’t going to let me down; play your best, play for your boys and play football.”

Westbrook finally got on the board with 1:35 remaining in the fourth quarter. Backup quarterback Chad Egeland hit senior Taylor Bourne over the middle for a 22-yard touchdown.

“It was a great example of showing we are still fighting,” said Cook. “At least we got a touchdown and not a goose egg. It was my best friend who scored, Taylor Bourne. That was his first touchdown.”

Portland returned the ensuing kickoff 72 yards for its own touchdown.

Still, football remains fun for Cook. He says it’s his closeness with his teammates that keeps him going, not the uniform and certainly not the scoreboard. Both positive and negative attitudes are contagious on a team, he says, so he tries to be a leader and promote the positive.

That isn’t easy task. After Friday night’s loss, Westbrook has still only beaten Portland seven times since the teams began playing in 1900. The last win came in 1992.

How are the Blue Blazes going to turn things around? A few more Tony Cooks would be a start.

Tuesday night Cook was again having fun and playing football. He and his teammates played a pickup game of seven-on-seven touch football in the rain.

“I played QB and linebacker,” he said. “MVP baby!”

MVP is right.


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