SCIO — In the early stages of his freshman football season at Scio High, Dru Cook displayed a level of physicality that excited Kyle Braa.
The clairvoyant head coach felt Cook would be a perfect fit at power back in the Loggers’ vaunted double wing offense. Three years and many touchdowns later, Cook has blossomed into the player Braa envisioned.
“My freshman year, coach Braa decided to put me at power back because I was gaining more weight and I seemed to run with my shoulder pads low all the time,” Cook said. “Ever since then, I’ve stuck as a power back.”
Cook received plenty of carries his first two seasons while the Loggers leaned on Anthony Johnson, who ended his decorated prep career with 6,337 rushing yards. Following Johnson’s graduation, Cook took over as Scio’s leading runner last fall and was voted the PacWest Conference co-offensive back of the year.
The 5-foot-10, 195-pound running back/linebacker has rushed for 928 yards and 17 touchdowns this season entering Friday’s matchup at Colton (3-2, 1-1). The Loggers (4-1, 3-0) will then host Blanchet (5-0, 3-0) the following week in a battle for the PacWest title.
“It might seem silly, but I feel like Dru’s maybe even a bit more physical this year in some respects,” Braa said. “He’s just a pretty physical kid.”
Two weeks ago, Cook exploded for 285 yards and six scores in a 58-13 rout of Salem Academy. The Crusaders were the 3A state runners-up a season ago and shared the conference title with the Loggers and Blanchet.
Cook ran for 108 yards and two TDs on just nine carries last Friday as Scio thrashed Jefferson by the same score.
“Dru always gets us pumped,” senior offensive lineman and linebacker Nathan Yoder said. “It’s fun to watch him get pumped, make a good block for him and then watch him succeed. I’m on the left side so I’ll pull around and try to lay some kids out for him.”
A veteran line has opened plenty of holes for Cook and company.
Yoder and Garrett Wallen were both first-team all-PacWest picks last fall on the offensive line. Jacob Lowther and Ryan Mask made the second team.
“A lot of the credit goes to my linemen,” Cook said. “They’ve improved a lot in the offseason and in camps. They are paying attention more with their blocks and are getting to the key guys they really need. Without the linemen, we couldn’t get anywhere.”
As a team, the Loggers have already rushed for 2,037 yards (407.4 per game) and 26 scores this season. Brody Foster (538 yards, five TDs), Riley Zimmerman (352 yards, three TDs) and Cook have received the bulk of the carries.
Scio is averaging 8.1 yards per rush.
“I feel that Dru gets a lot of the headlines and a lot of the attention, but we’ve got 10 other kids that line up every down that are just as good of football players,” Braa said. “They don’t really get the recognition they deserve in a lot of respects.”
The Loggers are two victories away from their fourth consecutive PacWest title (three outright, one shared). Scio is 20-1 in conference play during the span with two state quarterfinals appearances and a trip to the 2015 semis.
Injuries exposed a lack of depth last fall as the Loggers dropped three of their last four games. But this year’s squad is much deeper and healthier with postseason play right around the corner.
“I think everybody wants (a state title),” Yoder said. “I hope they all want it, because I sure do. I hope we realize that we actually can do this if we put our mind to it.”