IOWA CITY — By now, you know how well Ashton Cook can pass. More than 6,000 career yards is testament to that.
Cook also relishes the art of catching. And releasing.
“Oh, I love to fish,” the Iowa City Regina quarterback said Wednesday. I fell in love with it five years ago.
“I like to go to different ponds ... my dad has a friend with a boat. I’ve gotten a couple of my teammates into it.”
Cook’s species of choice is bass. His hobby is for recreation, not food.
“It’s always catch and release,” he said.
“If my wife would let him, Ashton would go fishing every day,” said Marv Cook, his father and football coach. “He has a couple of buddies that he fishes with, and they’ll spend their whole day out there somewhere.”
The pole and the tackle box are secondary now. The focus is all football.
Second-ranked Regina (9-1) faces No. 3 Saint Ansgar (10-0) in a Class A semifinal at 9 a.m. Friday at the UNI-Dome.
The Regals had their hands full in last week’s quarterfinal before outlasting Wapsie Valley, 32-27. This will be another big challenge.
“It will take a supreme effort from our team to get the victory,” Marv Cook said.
Ashton is the youngest of three children, all highly accomplished athletes, to Marv and Tracy Cook.
Drew was the 2015 Gazette Athlete of the Year and a key player in the Regals’ gridiron glory days, which consisted of six consecutive state championships from 2010 through 2015.
Logan helped lead Iowa City West to a state basketball championship in 2018 and now is a member of the University of Iowa women’s team.
“It was great watching them,” Ashton said. “When I was younger, I would get super excited to see my brother play on Friday nights, and it was great to see my sister play in a state-championship game.
“It was fun to watch it. Now I get to live it.”
Being the youngest sibling has its advantages.
“(Ashton) hung around practice a lot, and he played a lot of ball in the driveway with his sister,” Marv said. “When you’re the young one, you’re always playing against bigger and better people. When he was little, he was always jumping in with the bigger kids and competing.”
Ashton wears No. 6, like Drew did. He was the backup quarterback as a freshman, then took the reins as a sophomore.
He has thrown for 6,642 yards and 60 touchdowns in his career, completing 61.2 percent of his passes.
His senior season, as you would hope, has been his best season, with a 149.8 passer rating. Cook, who has added 30 pounds to his 6-foot-5 frame (he now weighs 210), has completed 151 of 229 passes for 2,286 yards with 22 touchdowns and three interceptions.
Regina dropped its season opener, 45-13, to Pleasant Valley, which will play in the 4A semifinals Friday, then beat a quality 2A Clear Lake team on the road, 21-20, in Week 2, and hasn’t lost since.
Cook’s top weapon throughout his career has been Alec Wick, who has caught 57 passes this season for 1,047 yards and 15 TDs. And there’s a strong ground game to go with it, led by Theo Kolie (1,316 rushing yards, 27 TDs).
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“Our system is a lot of read and react,” Marv said. “The defense is going to dictate what we do. Ashton is good about putting the ball where it’s supposed to be, on time. He doesn’t run it a lot, but when he need to extend a play with his legs, he can do it. And he’ll get us out of a bad play by throwing it away instead of taking a sack.”
Ashton is a 4.0 student, and he said he has “adjusted pretty well” to online learning.
“It honestly feels like being in a classroom,” he said. “There’s a camera on all of the students, and I get to make lunch at home. Today, I’ll throw in a frozen pizza.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has taken away some opportunities for college visits, but Ashton has received offers from both FBS and FCS programs. He’ll make a decision after the season.
“Right now, I just want to focus on the next game, and hopefully the one after that,” he said. “We have a tough one ahead of us. Saint Ansgar is tough and executes well. We’ll have to do the same.”