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All-Metro football Defensive Player of the Year

Defensive Player of the Year

Wyatt Cook

McDonogh, linebacker, junior

Cook's quickness and physical presence made it just about impossible for teams to run up the middle against the No. 1 Eagles.

He created the bottleneck that forced opponents into less-comfortable offensive strategies in every game, including the 37-6 win over Gilman that sealed the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference championship, an 11-0 season and McDonogh's No. 1 ranking. The Greyhounds simply could not move the ball against the Cook-led McDonogh defense.

Neither could anyone else, as the Eagles allowed just 85 points all season and less than 7.8 per game against MIAA A Conference foes.

With his talent and knowledge of the game, the 6-2, 230-pound Cook has drawn attention from top college programs all over the country, including Maryland, Penn State, Michigan, Michigan State, Northwestern, Notre Dame and Virginia Tech.

"For somebody who's his size to be able to go sideline to sideline makes him a tough guy to game-plan against," Archbishop Spalding coach Kyle Schmitt said. "You have cornerbacks and defensive linemen that you can run away from, but with that middle linebacker position, it's hard to run away from that guy and with his size, the way he plays downhill, it's hard to run at him, so I thought he was the key for the best defense we played all year."

McDonogh coach Dom Damico said Cook's experience as a heavyweight wrestler contributes to his competitive drive and his tackling ability. He had 86 tackles this fall, 12 of them for a loss.

"Our run defense was strong all year," Damico said. "Him and Connor Young were just incredible inside, so for the Gilman game, Wyatt brought confidence and that quiet leadership that everything is going to be okay and you're not going to able to run the ball between the tackles, so you better do something else. Wyatt is the guy that makes the offense run more than just between-the-tackle plays."

A student of the game, with the determination to know everything he can about each opponent, Cook steps on the field which as much knowledge and preparation as a coach, Damico said.

"He's basically the quarterback of our defense. He knows all the schemes. He knows everything we're trying to do. He's like having a coach on the field," Damico said. "He watches as much tape on his own time as do the coaches, so he knows the other team's offense. His process is like a college-level kid where he's very interested in figuring out tendencies and formations and groupings and plays. He's way ahead of the curve as it relates to his game-time preparation week to week."

Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun
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