Watch North Raleigh Christian Academy’s John Cook on the field for even a few minutes, and several adjectives come to mind when describing his pocket presence: strength, accuracy, composure.
Perhaps the best way to describe Cook’s performance this season: consistent. During the regular season, he had thrown for 30 touchdowns and three interceptions.
That consistency, however, hasn’t come easily for Cook or his teammates. First-year North Raleigh coach Rich Landis is the fourth coach in as many seasons that Cook and the other 13 seniors who make up North Raleigh’s class of 2013 have played for. Landis has led the team to a 9-2 record.
“We’ve overcome a lot of adversity,” Cook said of h and his classmates’ high school careers. “Coach Landis is a great coach. He bonded quickly with us and it’s been great.”
Landis came to North Raleigh after a nine-year stint as coach at Southlake Christian in Huntersville. He helped build that program from scratch, culminating in a 10-2 record in 2011. He said so far this season, this North Raleigh team has met all of his expectations, and he largely credits the senior class for setting the tone for his team.
“I knew it was a good group of older guys,” Landis said. “They’ve been good leaders. They all understand their roles. I couldn’t think of a better situation to come into.”
Other standouts from the Knights’ senior class include running back Cody Sterrett (714 rushing yards, eight total touchdowns), receiver Charlie Davisson (35 catches for 734 yards and 12 touchdowns) and Josiah Ewart (four touchdowns).
Cook and his team have improved steadily since he was thrust into the starting lineup during his sophomore season. In 2010, the Knights finished 4-6. Last season, their record improved to 6-5 as Cook threw for 2,749 yards, 30 touchdowns and 11 interceptions.
“My sophomore year was kind of rough. I was probably a little flustered,” Cook said. “Junior year I started to put things together.”
Cook has completed 124 of 214 passes for 1,990 yards this season. His stats are equally impressive in the classroom, as he has a GPA of better than 4.0. The 6‘1, 195 pound quarterback has received interest from several Division I schools, including Davidson and Princeton. As much as he loves football, Cook makes it clear that academics will be the main factor in deciding where he will attend college next fall.
“I know football will probably end after four years, so I want to go to a school that will give me a good education when football is over,” he said.
Cook said he plans on becoming a doctor when his playing days are over. Landis said he sees coaching in the quarterback’s future.
“Whatever he ends up doing professionally, he’s going to find himself coaching,” Landis said. “He makes the coaches’ jobs so much easier. Every kid respects him not only for his talents, but also for his leadership.”