Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Cook steps down from Carey grid coaching

28 seasons on gridiron

Carey football coaches, from left, Lee Cook, Lane Durtschi and head coach Lane Kirkland have guided the Panthers through some of their greatest football seasons in recent years. Photo by Mountain Express

Carey High School teacher and coach Lee Cook resigned March 18 as assistant varsity football coach and defensive coordinator for the Panthers after 28 years on the sideline.

He will be replaced as head coach Lane Kirkland’s assistant coach by Jake Nilsen, a Spanish teacher at Carey School who graduated from Hailey’s Wood River High School in 2000 after playing football and baseball there.

Cook will continue as athletic director, boys’ track coach and teacher at Carey. He previously was Carey’s head boys’ basketball coach. Another Carey assistant football coach, Lane Durtschi, will remain on coach Kirkland’s grid staff.

Cook, who will be 65 on July 18, started his duties working as assistant coach for head coach Heber Kirkland in 1985. During that 28-year time span the Carey Panthers have won five state eight-man football championships, the last in 2010.

Indeed, Cook played quarterback for four years at Carey while a Panther student starting in 1963, the same year that eight-man football started in Carey. “I had a good arm and slow feet,” Cook said. “Camas County was the king in eight-man football those years.

“There was only one league in the state at that time, and we played Grandview to a 20-20 tie for the league championship that year of 1963, when I was a freshman and (Carey teacher) Ken Mecham was a sophomore. Wendell Wolfe was our coach. He was a baseball player from the University of Idaho.”

Cook plans to assume more responsibilities at his church while continuing to teach and  coach at Carey, and while devoting more time to his family. He and his wife of 39 years, Sandy, have six children and nine grandchildren.

He said, “I’m a really lucky and blessed man to have had so many wonderful opportunities to associate with and teach great student athletes. Coaching has been a privilege for me, and I’m so grateful to all who have helped me and taught me so much. I’ve given coaching football my very best effort. I wish to leave feeling this way.”

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