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Bulldog QB joins some elite company

Updated: September 6, 2012 at 5:00 am
Butte High quarterback Dallas Cook has his name listed next to some big-time players, and he's only started two games. Butte High quarterback Dallas Cook has his name listed next to some big-time players, and he's only started two games.

He’s from Philadelphia, his name is Dallas and he’s a Raiders fan.

Meet new Butte High quarterback Dallas Cook. He’s started two varsity games and he’s already a record-breaking passer for the high-powered Bulldogs.

Official game stats say Cook completed 41 of 62 passes for 521 yards and two touchdowns for Butte High against Billings Skyview last Friday on Wendy’s Field in Billings.

The 521 yards set a school record, breaking the mark of 385 by Matt Berg against Missoula Sentinel in 2010. Cook’s 572 total yards in that game also broke a record of 451 set by Berg in that same game.

According to the Montana High School Association record book, Cook is only the second quarterback in Montana high school history to pass for more than 500 yards in a game. Billings Central’s Chris Klein did it twice, passing for 624 yards against Colstrip and 590 against Sidney in 1995.

The record book also says the 41 completions are the best in state history. However, a former Billings Senior coach says Mark Desin completed 42 of 72 passes against Great Falls Russell in 2003. (It’s probably a good bet the Senior star went for more than 500 yards in a game, too.)

Either way, it was an historic night for the left-handed quarterback and the Bulldogs, even though it might have lost some luster because Butte High lost the shootout 55-48.

When a player’s name is getting mentioned in the same breath as some of the players in the record book — guys with names like Gary Wagner, Tanner Roderick, Josh Paffhausen and Dave Dickenson — he’s got to be doing something pretty good.

“It does not negate how good he was,” Butte High coach Arie Gray says of the loss. “He got so much better from Week 1 to Week 2, and we’re expecting him to get better from Week 2 to Week 3. His command of the offense is so vast.”

Week 3 comes Friday night when the Bulldogs play host to Missoula Hellgate during Silver B’s Night at Naranche Stadium.

In two games as Butte High’s starter, Cook has completed 50 of 80 passes for 781 yards and four touchdowns. That will seem like a pretty good season to many of the old Bulldogs who will be honored Friday night.

If you ask the 16-year-old junior quarterback — Cook doesn’t turn 17 until April 30 — he doesn’t hesitate as to why he has such good numbers already. It’s his weapons, he says.

“It’s nice,” Cook says of playing with a receiving corps that included three guys who went over 100 yards last Friday. “It puts less work on me. It’s great. I love it.”

Sophomore Dalton Daum is the fastest of the receivers. Senior Kaedon Caprara is also a burner. He’s went over 100 yards in both Butte High games, including 143 yards on three receptions in the opener.

Seniors Bryce Armstrong and Jon Allen and junior tight end Tyler Earles pretty much give Cook a game-breaking option in every direction.

“Our whole receiver group is pretty fast,” Cook says. “Our tight end is up there, too.”

Throw in the fact that Cook is playing in front of an offensive line that is full of college prospects, and Cook is one happy quarterback.

“It’s pretty fun,” Cook says of playing in Butte High’s no-huddle spread offense. “It’s fast-paced, which is what I like. The defense has to prepare for a fast-paced offense. They have to be ready for every play. That’s what we look for. Once they mess up on one play, that’s where we got ‘em.”

Cook is huge for a quarterback. He’s 6-foot-4 and 210 pounds. He also has good speed and athletic ability, which was evident when he ran for 108 yards and two touchdowns in the season-opening win over Great Falls Russell.

Cook’s father, Scott, played college football for the University of North Carolina before a couple of short stops in the NFL. Scott Cook played for the Dallas Cowboys as a replacement player during the 1987. He also spent time on the Cowboys’ “taxi squad,” which is similar to the practice squad of today, and tried out for several other NFL teams before hanging up the dream after an injury in 1989.

However, Grey says Dallas Cook isn’t good simply because he has natural ability. Hard work is a major factor.

“That’s why he does what he does,” Grey says. “He’s a very good practice player. He’s a great teammate and a great kid.”

Cook says working with his receivers throughout the summer is paying off.

“Every day after morning weights we’d do ‘skelly’ or we’d set up throwing on Sundays,” Cook says. “We did a lot of work in the summer.”

Cook went to quarterback camps in Spokane and Seattle, where he worked extensively on his throwing mechanics.

“They want me to put the ball higher,” Cook says. “I hold it down here and it takes time, so I’ve got to get the ball up. I work on mechanics all the time, every chance I get.”

Cook also has the chance to make fans of the Powell County Wardens and Anaconda Copperheads dream about what might have been every time he takes the field for the purple and white or beyond.

Cook’s mother, Michele, was born and raised in Deer Lodge. She meet Scoot Cook while going to college in Philadelphia. The family moved to Montana when Dallas was young, and Dallas went to school in Deer Lodge from first through eighth grades.

The Cooks moved to Anaconda before Dallas’ freshman year.

In the Smelter City, Cook played varsity football, seeing time at quarterback. He started on the Copperhead varsity basketball team.

The family moved to Butte before Dallas’ sophomore season. Dallas considered going to Butte Central before enrolling at Class AA Butte High.

Cook, who helped guide the Butte High junior varsity team to a 7-3 mark last year, saw some varsity time as a back up to Brock Bond as a sophomore. He was a key bench player for the Butte High varsity basketball team.

Cook’s days at quarterback go back to his days in Little Guy Football. Cook played running back until the team’s quarterback was injured. Then he filled in under center and led his team to back-to-back Lil Copperhead championships.

“I just liked it ever since,” Cook says of playing QB.

Dallas is one of three boys in the Cook family. Dylan is a freshman at Butte High. He also plays quarterback, suiting up for the junior varsity team. Devon Cook is in the third grade at Whittier Elementary.

Dallas says Dylan is so good that he presents a threat to his status as starting quarterback at Butte High next season.

“He’ll chase me,” Dallas says with a smile. “If he beats me out next year I can always go to receiver.”

Does the elder Cook really think his younger brother will take his job?

“He’ll push,” he says, seriously. “He always pushes me harder. We push each other.”

For now, though, Dallas is the Cook gaining notoriety around the state.

Of course, Cook is pretty easy to spot thanks to his “Honey Badger” hairdo, fashioned after Tyrann Mathieu, a Heisman Trophy finalist at LSU last season.

The yellow Mohawk is attention getting. That Mohawk and his record-breaking play were certainly noticed by the Billings Skyview student second last week. The Billings students heckled Cook throughout the game.

Cook just shook his head and laughed off the taunting.

“That’s all you can do,” he says. “I love attention. I’ll take it all day.”

Cook has also garnered attention with his size, athletic ability and play. Montana State has been in contact with the quarterback about playing football, Cook says.

“There’s nothing he can’t do,” Grey says of his quarterback. “He’s going to get better and better, and it’s going to be neat to watch him.”

Cook says he’d probably like to go out of state for college and he actually prefers to play basketball. He is also a realist. The post player understands that while 6-4 might be big for a quarterback, it’s small on the college basketball court.

“Right now if I went to a Division I I’d be a point guard,” he says. “I’d lean toward football because it would probably be easier to get into a college than basketball. But we’ll play it out.”

Cook has a long way to go before finalizing those college plans. Along with his band of speedy and talented receivers, Cook still probably has many record-breaking nights in his Bulldog ahead of him.

“We haven’t even played our best yet,” Cook says. “The one game when we play our best it’s going to be big.”

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