Du Quoin alum Cook shines in Morthland's first varsity football game
Du Quoin native Spencer Cook and Morthland College both had good season debuts.
In his first action of the 2016 season, Cook had 11 tackles — seven solo, four assisted, including a sack. His efforts helped the Patriots – in the first varsity football game in program history — top Robert Morris-Peoria 36-6 on Sept. 3 in Carbondale, MorthlandPatriots.com reported.
“Our first game felt good, we got to feel the varsity tempo and figure out what adjustments we need to make,” Cook, a junior linebacker, told the Southeast Illinois News.
Cook established his gridiron bona fides during a strong prep career at Du Quoin High School. Mckbearcats.com reported Cook had 90 tackles and two interceptions as a high-school senior, 117 tackles as a junior and 65 tackles as a sophomore. He was a two-time All-Southern Illinois River-to-River Conference first-team pick for his efforts.
Cook initially went to McKendree University in Lebanon, Illinois, before moving to the fledgling program in West Frankfort, which was added in 2015.
“I came to Morthland because it is an opportunity to play football and start something new,” he said.
The young program doesn't yet have its own football field. The first game was played at Saluki Stadium in Carbondale, and the second game on the schedule — against College of Faith on Sept. 10, which College of Faith forfeited — was supposed to be played at Johnson Field in West Frankfort. The Sept. 24 home game was played at Marion High School, a 77-0 loss to Wisconsin-Oshkosh.
This year, the school did move the athletic department into the former Galaxy Fitness Center in West Frankfort, which includes a training room and weight room in addition to offices for coaches and staff. In an earlier story in the Southeast Illinois News, former director of athletics Buddy Foster said the school's development timeline has Morthland having a new football field by fall 2017.
Cook said he didn't have any concerns about joining such a young program.
“I just came here with an open mind and I believe we can compete with a lot of teams,” he said.
That was certainly the case against Robert Morris-Peoria. After a scoreless first half, the Patriots notched 22 points in the third quarter and added 14 more in the fourth quarter. The Morthland defense did allow 293 yards on the day, but recovered three fumbles, including returning one for a touchdown, and had two sacks, statistics on MorthlandPatriots.com detailed.
The defense also came up big in the first half. Robert Morris-Peoria had just intercepted the ball, but the Patriots kept them from scoring and capitalizing on the miscue.
Cook had one tackle in the loss to Wisconsin-Oshkosh and five tackles in the Patriots' 63-26 loss to Lyon College on Sept. 17 in Batesville, Arkansas.
Other home games scheduled this season are against MacMurray College at 2 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 23, and against Southern Illinois-Edwardsville at 7 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 5, with both games set for West Frankfort.
Streaming video of Patriots games is available at MorthlandPatriots.com.