Game-winning placement puts Wildcats kicker Sam Cook in rare company | News, Sports, Jobs


Courtesy Photo / Sam Cook (17) of Jonny Zawacki Alpena hits a winning basket from 21 yards with 52 seconds left against Gaylord. Cook’s basket was only the second time in program history that a Wildcats kicker decided a game in the dying seconds with a successful basket.

ALPENA – With Friday’s Big North Conference game tied 7-7 between Alpena and Gaylord in the dying moments of what was an offensive fight, the Wildcats got the ball deep into Blue Devil territory after recovering a fumble at the 11-yard line with 2:44 left on the game clock.

Unlike earlier in the contest where Alpena threw an interception on Gaylord’s two-yard line, the Wildcats opted to play cautiously and run the ball, beating the clock, with complete faith in giving the kicker second. Sam Cook year an opportunity to win the game with a field goal in the dying seconds.

That’s exactly what Alpena did.

“The game was less than two minutes from time and we were close, so I was getting ready to sit on the sidelines,” Cook said. “We played a few games and then with 52 seconds to play they called me over there.”

Like all winning field goal attempts, Cook’s 21-yard try came with tremendous extra pressure.

Not only was the game on the line with 52 seconds left, Cook was fortunate enough to end Alpena’s long losing streak and give the program and current players a win they desperately needed.

On the road, in front of a crowd back at Gaylord and after missing a basket earlier in the game, at 21 yards, Cook delivered for the Wildcats, sending the ball perfectly through the uprights to end the 13-mile streak. Alpena’s back-to-back losing streak and an eight-game conference losing streak as the Wildcats claimed their first win of the season with a 10-7 victory.

“We knew we could hit the field goal as soon as we got the turnover. Gaylord asked for a time out before we played the first game, so we decided to throw the ball and burn a little clock. We obviously wanted to hit him in the end zone, but we also knew we wanted to burn as much time as possible and send Sam for the basket and leave little time on the clock, ”said Alpena coach Eric Mitchell. . . “We trust Sam’s leg. We lined up in the middle of the field instead of the hash and we ran a few inside kicks and in the fourth row it was a no-brainer for us, we were completely confident that Sam would do that kick and win the game for us.

With the match winner, Cook not only propelled Alpena to victory, but also put himself in the company of a few rare people, becoming Alpena’s second varsity kicker to score a game-winning goal in the dying seconds of football history. program.

The other winning basket arrived in the same way.

On October 18, 2002, the Wildcats were tied 7-7 with rival Traverse City Central in a game played in heavy downpours at Wildcat Stadium.

Alpena managed a pass in the dying seconds of the match, but failed to go out of bounds, so the goalkeeper unit was rushed onto the pitch for the final winner of the match.

The Wildcats were able to line up and Nate Grueter kicked in what was the first winning field goal in program history to take Alpena to a 10-7 victory.

Not only did Cook and Greuter now share some of Alpena’s footballing history, the two had something else in common.

Grueter also made a name for himself on the college football team and the Wildcats used his leg on Friday night to help the football team. Cook is the same dual-sport athlete, being a key part of Alpena’s football and college football team.

“There wasn’t too much pressure I was feeling. Obviously I was thinking about it on the sidelines, but once I run on the pitch my mind goes blank and I just focus on the kick and my job to help my team, ”said Cook. “Playing two sports is a big help, especially being a kicker on the team and being a defender in soccer. It feels good to have this opportunity to win a game and it is a special feeling to know that I am part of Alpena football history.

Cook’s kick came as a sense of relief for an Alpena program that had been the polar opposite of field goal games in the dying seconds.

The Wildcats suffered a handful of field goal losses in the dying seconds, including a 17-14 loss to Bay City John Glenn in 2016, a 13-12 loss to Gladstone in 2009, a 29-28 loss to Petoskey in 2003 and a 9-7 loss to Traverse City West in 1997, so it was nice that the program ended on the positive side of history, as Cook entered the Wildcat kicker shortlist to win a winning match.

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