COLUMBIA — After the 2007 season it seemed like Crandon Cook's upcoming sophomore year would leave him as a man without a position.
In Hickman's 48-15 loss to Park Hill on Friday night he was a man with many of them.
After playing mostly quarterback his freshman year, Cook was told by Kewpies head coach Jason Wright that he might not be seeing time at that position this season, but the staff would find him a spot somewhere on the roster.
And they kept to their word. In fact, they found him several.
Cook lined up at quarterback and caught a pass at wide receiver on Hickman's first scoring drive. Already up 6-0 following a fumble return touchdown by Hickman senior Quan Hord Bush, the first drive for the Kewpies offense went 56 yards and was capped by Chaun Nebbit taking a handoff from Cook 7 yards for a Hickman touchdown.
As a sophomore Cook's role is extensive, but he knew what would be expected of him before the season began.
"I was ready for it," Cook said. "I didn't say it was going to be easy. Coach Wright told me what I was going to go through. But I was ready."
After Hickman failed on the two point conversion following Nebbit's touchdown the score remained 12-0 with 5:29 remaining in the first quarter. That would be the last highlight for the Kewpies, who fell to 1-2 in a 48-15 loss to Park Hill.
But it wasn't the last highlight for Cook.
His work was not limited to the offensive side of the ball as he made tackles on back-to-back plays at cornerback on a Park Hill drive in the first quarter. Unfortunately, both tackles were made more than 8 yards down the field, and those chunks of yardage were indicative of things to come for the Trojans.
The Trojans running game opened up the field, allowing a 32-yard play action pass to tight end Steven Clark with 2:40 left in the first quarter to make it 28-12 in favor of Park Hill. After baiting the Kewpie linebackers with a quick play-fake quarterback Erik Johanson found Clark who was running completely uncovered up the seam for the score.
When half arrived, Park Hill had rushed for 158 yards and scored 35 unanswered points for a 35-12 lead.
"I'm at a loss for words," Wright said of the performance. "Our run defense has generally been good throughout the years. I just don't think we're being very physical up front, we've got some young kids in spots and offenses are taking advantage of it."
As the third quarter began, however, Cook made one more attempt to salvage the game for the Kewpies. This time it was neither on offense nor defense, but on special teams.
Cook returned the opening kickoff of the second half up the right sideline 40 yards up to midfield. But the Kewpie running game couldn't finish what Cook started as Park Hill's rush defense firmed up on key plays throughout the night.
Cook, though, still seemed determined to leave his imprint on every phase of the game. After a quick three-and-out by the Park Hill offense Cook came untouched off the right edge and cleanly blocked the Trojan punt, which was recovered on the Park Hill 9-yard line. Again, the Hickman offense failed to convert on the opportunity set up by Cook as Wesley Leftwich missed a 35-yard field goal.
Cook gave his coaching staff credit for the emphasis it has put on special teams throughout practice.
"In practice it's always special teams," Cook said. "They (the coaching staff) say we've got to take this serious because one day special teams may come through and help us save a game."
Despite Cook's contributions Hickman could never find a rhythm on offense after falling behind. As a team that prides itself on the running the football, it was obvious that the Kewpies weren't comfortable having to put the ball in the air when trying to mount a comeback.
Starting quarterback Matt Herman was just 11-for-24 passing, including an interception that was returned 45 yards for a touchdown by Park Hill junior cornerback De'Rion Rambo. Dropped passes and overthrows stalled the Kewpie offense all night.
The Park Hill offense took advantage adding 13 points after halftime. Six different players found the end zone during the game for the Trojans.
While the Kewpies have young talent all over the field, Wright said it is the simple parts of the game where they have been lacking.
"I thought we were fundamentally bad tonight," Wright said. "With a young group we've got to spend a little more time on fundamentals, maybe simplify things offensively and defensively."
Wright noted that the Kewpies have to ask themselves where they go from here.
The practice field on Monday seems like the first stop, and Cook thinks that's the only place where a turnaround is going to start for Hickman.
"The intensity in practice isn't where it needs to be," Cook said. "We need to start taking things more seriously. We need some playmakers to step up and take control of this. We just need more leadership in practice."