SYRACUSE — In Wawasee’s 48-6 home thrashing of West Noble Friday night, senior wide receiver Clayton Cook was playing on a different level.
Implementing the speed that has opened the door for him to play at Ball State University next season, the 6-foot-3, 180-pound Cook caught five passes for 154 yards and two scores, while also running for a 45-yard touchdown out of the Wildcat formation.
“He only played a quarter last week (at Whitko), and we got him the ball a lot on intermediate passes (tonight) and not a lot of deep stuff,” Wawasee coach Josh Ekovich said.
In the intermediate routes, Cook began the game with a 28-yard reception, then topped that when senior quarterback Gage Reinhard hit him between two defenders later in the quarter.
Instead of going down, Cook bounced off of the defenders and easily outran the safety for a 76-yard touchdown, pushing the Warriors’ lead to 13-0 with 2:08 remaining in the first quarter.
Once again making the West Noble defense look like it was running in sand, Cook’s rushing touchdown came after he faked a handoff, then sprinted off tackle, outrunning everyone in the third quarter.
“He’s an elite athlete, so sometimes he makes people look not as good (as they may be),” Ekovich said.
The rushing score put Wawasee up 48-0 with 7:21 to play in the third quarter, and wasn’t exactly a play Ekovich wanted other teams to have film of, as Northern Lakes Conference action begins this Friday at home against Northridge.
However, he reluctantly ran the play, which just piled onto an already insurmountable lead.
“We want to be able to get live game reps for as much of our offense as possible,” he said.
Against West Noble, the talent of Wawasee was just overwhelming.
Reinhard finished the game completing 13 of 21 passes for 246 yards and three touchdowns, with his last throw being a 30-yard scoring strike to junior Sam Clark with 9:03 remaining in the third.
Reinhard also ran for two touchdowns.
“When we have dynamic playmakers like we’ve got, I think ‘Why not?,’” Ekovich said of his team’s dominance. “It’s like telling (former Warsaw running back) Tristan McClone last year not to rush 30 times a game.”
The Wawasee defense also stepped up.
Despite giving up 256 yards and 14 first downs, the first-team defense held a shutout and responded to every one of West Noble’s big plays.
On both of West Noble’s plays over 30 yards, the Warrior defense got a turnover on the very next play.
First, senior linebacker Maclain Herr recovered a fumble one play after a 33-yard pick-up, then, Clark intercepted a pass and returned it 73 yards for a score right after West Noble had picked up 37 yards on another pass play.
“In the offseason, we talked about being more resilient when bad things happen,” Ekovich said. “That’s one thing we’ve focused in on in practice. We put them in unfavorable situations and see how they respond.”
Sitting at 2-0 after his team outscored its first two opponents 82-18, Ekovich is hesitant to say how good his team is, but will have a much better sense of it following the return of former coach Tom Wogomon and the 2-0 Northridge Raiders.
“In any season, it’s really hard to tell if you’re good until about Week 4, 5 or 6 – until you get into your conference,” he said.
“Northridge’s defense is going to be good,” he added. “They’re a very good defense. They’ve got more overall team speed. I think West Noble has a couple of guys that could play on Northridge’s defense, but as far as overall depth – from the D-line to the secondary – it’s going to be a completely different ball game.”

WAWASEE 48, WEST NOBLE 6
WN    0    0    0    6    —    6
Waw    13    14     21    0     —    48

    WN    W
1st downs    14    10
Rushing yds    104    141
Passing yds    152    246
Comp-Att-Int    11-21-2    13-21-0
Total yds    256    387
Fumbles/lost    2/1    0/0
Penalties/yds    1/13    7/70
Punts/avg    5/20.8    3/36.7

First Quarter
Waw – Gage Reinhard 2 run (kick failed) 9:40, 6-0.
Waw – Reinhard 76 pass to Clayton Cook (Lucas Garza kick) 2:08, 13-0.
Second Quarter
Waw – Reinhard 5 pass to Cook (Garza kick) 9:57, 20-0.
Waw – Reinhard 1 run (Garza kick) 0:38, 27-0
Third Quarter
Waw – Sam Clark 73 interception return (Garza kick) 11:12, 34-0.
Waw – Reinhard 30 pass to Clark (Garza kick) 9:03, 41-0.
Waw – Cook 45 run (Garza kick) 7:21, 48-0.
Fourth Quarter
WN – Bradley Martin 28 run (kick blocked) 4:57, 48-6.

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS
Rushing — Wawasee, Cook 1-45, Noah Wadkins 1-39, Nic Wilson 10-32, Nathan Katzer 2-11, Reinard 6-8, Paul Mendoza 2-8, Mylon Betts 2-(-1), Kolin Bell 4-(-1). West Noble, Levi Nelson 14-47, Kyler Warble 6-38, Martin 9-33, Waylon Richardson 4-(-14).
Passing — Wawasee, Reinhard 13-21, 246 yds, 3 TDs. West Noble, Richardson 11-21, 152 yds, TD, 2 INTs.
Receiving — Wawasee, Cook 5-154, Clark 2-31, Cameron Krizman 3-30, Betts 2-26, Wilson 1-5. West Noble, Martin 7-103, Payton Shrock 3-44, Sean Bush 1-5.