Evan Cook is new to the team, but definitely no stranger to a Cheney soccer program that has had an inordinate level of success.
State participation notwithstanding, even when the Blackhawks (17-2) were competing in the Greater Spokane League they had upper-division finishes their final three years.
So it’s no surprise they have returned for a second straight trip to State 2A’s final weekend. It is especially thrilling for Cook that he will play a role.
“I’ve been going to Cheney games for years now,” said the freshman son of Eastern Washington University sports information director Dave Cook. “They’ve been doing well and it’s exciting to be a part of that.”
Last year he witnessed Cheney’s second-place finish, losing 2-1 to Sehome.
He had been in Seattle for a tournament with his Shadow club team and drove down to watch.
“It’s crazy to think that I’m going to be playing there this week,” Cook said.
Although a neophyte, one of Cheney’s two center midfielders appreciates all facets of a program that stresses possession and his teammates.
“The game is way more physical,” said Cook. “You’re going up against kids two and three years older. It’s nice to have the other big guys to kind of have your back.”
Co-captains Paul Hollowell and Bryce Parkinson along with Brady Early and Joey Sexton formed a veteran Cheney defense.
Cook as a result was moved from his more familiar center back spot to the midfield. He said it was scary at first, but his goal was to impress the older players.
While it took some adjustment to learn the new position, he’s had an impact on this year’s team.
“He filled a role, could do the job and we put him in there,” coach Steve Davis said. “He demands a mental focus, physical intensity and vision of the game – all those things are critical – and the ability to see the defensive shape. Poised is a good thing to say about him.”
Cook said he hadn’t met Davis until his tryout but likes the way he coaches. He also ended up having his as his geometry teacher.
“He makes you work hard for him, and a lot of what he bases his philosophy on is how you’re thinking the game,” he said.
Cheney meets Prosser at 8 p.m. Friday at Sunset Chev Stadium in Sumner in the nightcap of the State 2A semifinals. Archbishop Murphy plays Squalicum in the 4 p.m. opener.
Prosser is making its third state appearance. The Mustangs beat Cheney in 2007 in a shootout following a 0-0 standoff. Cook said the team goal is to reach the championship.
“We’re just going to bring our best game,” Davis said. “At this level it comes down to who wants it more, everything else aside.
“We’ll give our best effort to be as prepared as we can be, leave nothing on the field and be proud of what we’ve accomplished.”