High school football: Quarterback Jason Cook kicks East past Fremont
Kristin Murphy, Deseret News
PLAIN CITY — When the quarterback lines up to kick a field goal on fourth down and four, it's typically a trick play.
But Jason Cook is not a typical quarterback.
The East High senior, who also happens to be the captain of the soccer team, kicked his first career field goal — 37 yards — to win a 23-20 overtime thriller in Plain City Friday night.
"He's as tough a kid as I have ever coached," said East head football coach Brandon Matich. "He's not the biggest kid, but he has a swagger and a toughness that makes his teammates believe in him."
In fact, his teammates believed in him so much that when coaches suggested they run a trick play, the rest of the Leopards encouraged Cook to take the kick.
"Coach came up to me and he wanted to do a fake, but my guys said they believed in me and I just took that to heart and I kicked the ball," said Cook.
Matich said his quarterback guaranteed him a win.
"He said, 'Coach, I promise I will make this,' " said the coach in between hugs, high fives and a celebration after the win.
Cook was mobbed by some of his teammates, while others ran off the field to the arms of fans and family members.
The field goal brought some players to tears, others to their knees. The Leopards were so thrilled with the win, they had to be reminded to shake hands with the Silver Wolves, who were celebrating homecoming.
Matich said the emotion was simply a sign of their affection for each other..
"This shows that East High School is able to win tough football game against a really well-coached team," said Matich, who grinned as he wiped away tears. "Our kids care about each other and they care about winning, and that's going to go a long way."
Matich had high praise for the 5A team East High beat Friday night.
"In seven years (as a head coach), Park City included, that's the best coached football team I've ever coached against," said Matich. "They remind me a lot of when I was at Skyline in the late '90s … not schematically, but in discipline, fundamentals, they're going to do a great job in 5A this year; that's a great football team."
Cook gave credit to his teammates, especially his offensive line, but his heroic kick wouldn't have happened were it not for Sione Makoni's huge tackle.
Fremont had the ball first in the overtime and on fourth down and inches, junior Jordan Preator, who'd played most of the second half at quarterback and safety, tried to run around the outside where Makoni tackled him for a loss of three yards.
"It felt great," said Makoni, who felt a little redemption after being flagged for a personal foul late in the fourth quarter for tackling a player out of bounds. "I let my emotions get the best of me. But I knew rest of my guys had my back. The thing that made us win tonight was family. We had heart."
Fremont scored 13 points in the first quarter, with East answering in the second with a 20-point effort. East kept the ball all but two minutes of the third quarter, but couldn't manage to score.
The Silver Wolves switched quarterbacks from Cooper Kelley to Jordan Preator in the second half and had a lot of success running the option between Preator and running back Nick Vigil. Vigil and Preator took turns running the length of the field with Vigil scoring on a three-yard run at 8:24 in the fourth.
The Leopards couldn't answer, and when Fremont moved the ball to the 4-yard line with inches to go on third down, it looked like the Silver Wolves had both opportunity and momentum.
But pressure from the East defense forced the kick wide right, which sent the contest into overtime.
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