Photo by Rob Howe
Your Prep Sports
IOWA CITY – For a quarterback and a receiver timing is everything.
Regina juniors Ashton Cook and Alec Wick have spent a lifetime of sporting events getting that timing down.
“They’ve been doing everything together since Kindergarten,” Regina coach Marv Cook said. “They’ve played basketball, baseball, football together and so they just have a great chemistry together.”
In their third year at Regina that timing and chemistry has helped turn Cook and Wick into one of the most productive passing combinations in the state.
Cook ranks third in Class 1A in passing and Wick is in the top two in both receptions and receiving yards while leading 1A in touchdown grabs.
“The timing is really important,” Cook said. “A lot of times the coverage might be really tight but if you have good timing with your receivers it helps a lot to get the ball out and get completions.”
The success for Cook and Wick this season has fueled Regina (8-2) in a bounce back season for the perennial power Regals.
A year after missing the playoffs for the first time since 2003 Regina is seeking its ninth semifinal appearance in the past 10 seasons on Friday when it faces fourth-ranked West Branch (10-0) in a 1A quarterfinal at 7 p.m. at the Little Rose Bowl.
“It’s starting to click and that’s a good thing,” Wick said. “We want to be clicking now and it’s starting to look like it.”
Breakthrough seasons from Cook and Wick have been two of the biggest reasons for the Regals resurgence.
Both players showed glimpses of breaking through during their first two varsity seasons.
Cook threw for 120 yards and a touchdown in a state semifinal win as a freshman and Wick ranked second on the team in both receptions and receiving yards that same season.
Both took big steps last season as sophomores but an injury to Cook sidelined the signal caller for four full games as Regina finished 5-4.
With Cook healthy for a full season this fall both players have emerged as among the best in Class 1A at their positions.
Cook has passed for 2,149 yards and 23 touchdowns this season with Wick accounting for more than half of both of those totals.
The 6-foot-1, 179-pound Wick has caught 75 passes for 1,120 yards and a 1A-best 14 touchdowns.
“The more time I have with him the better our timing gets,” Cook said of Wick “I think that the more we play together the better we get.”
Cook returned from injury to pass for 714 yards in the final two games this season.
This fall the 6-foot-3, 181-pound junior has picked up where he left off.
Cook has passed for more than 250 yards in seven of his last 12 games dating back to last season and has thrown multiple touchdown passes nine times during that span.
“He’s been doing a good job,” Marv Cook said. “He’s going through his progressions and his reads and a lot of times the defense is going to tell you where to throw the ball an he’s been doing a good job of that.
In his first full season Cook is completing 56 percent of his passes and has also rushed for 252 yards and six touchdowns.
“I’ve seen a ton of improvement in him,” Wick said of Cook. “It’s great to have a quarterback like him because we can spread the ball around, he can run the ball it makes us unpredictable.”
While Wick is his top target Cook has thrown touchdown passes to six different players this season with Nick Hein and Josh Dutchik each catching three touchdowns.
“Alec is having a great year and he’s a great football player but Dutchik is having a great year, Levi Quinlan having a great year, Nick Hein is doing some nice things for us and Theo (Kolie) is running the ball well,” Marv Cook said. “When you have seven or eight guys that can touch it that’s hard to defend.”
Regina enters Friday’s quarterfinal averaging 32 points and 370 yards of offense per game.
The key for the Regals of late has been a revived running game led by Kolie who has rushed for a team-high 688 yards and eight touchdowns.
Regina ran for 187 yards in an opening-round win over Mediapolis, it’s highest rushing total since week three.
“We really have moved guys around, Levi Quinlan has been a jack of all trades for us being able to play running back and receiver, Theo Kolie has done a good job coming in at running back,” Marv Cook said. “We’ve been able to establish the run, we look for balance and we think we are getting our groove at the right time.”
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