ALPENA — Amid the ever-changing and admittedly different fall high school sports season, Andrew Dargis and Sam Cook are keeping pretty busy.
Dargis, a junior, and Cook, a sophomore, are pulling double duty this fall, playing both soccer and football for Alpena High School.
Cook is kicking for Alpena football, a role traditionally taken on by Alpena’s soccer players, but Dargis is playing both ways on the gridiron, lining up at tight end and linebacker.
“I talked to the coaches (and they) let me do both, so I’m really enjoying being able to play both sports,” Dargis said.
Playing two sports has been enjoyable for both athletes, but it hasn’t been easy. Safety measures taken to deter the spread of COVID-19 have both athletes wearing masks on the soccer field and football helmets with protective face shields on Friday nights. Both sports have different game and practice schedules and competing in two sports has been a lesson in endurance.
Cook’s and Dargis’ endurance was tested right away during the week of Sept. 14, when they played six games in five days.
The Alpena soccer team played on the road at Gaylord on Sept. 15 and at Cadillac on Sept. 17 and the pair made a trip back to Cadillac on Sept. 18 for Alpena’s football opener. They then returned to Alpena for the annual Huron Shores Tournament on Sept. 19, where they played three more games.
“That was a crazy week. Six games in five days, that was crazy,” Dargis said. “You just have to stay focused and take it one game at a time.”
Dargis played soccer up to ninth grade, but has played football each of the last two years. He was all set to play football again this fall until the Michigan High School Athletic Association announced the postponement of the fall season in August.
Though the MHSAA reinstated the season a few weeks later, the time between allowed Dargis to rediscover his love of soccer, giving a developing Alpena squad a physical presence on defense and in the midfield.
It’s been a bit of a baptism by fire for both players, but Alpena boys soccer coach Tim Storch is pleased with the progress they’ve made this season.
“Dargis has been just a tremendous pleasure,” Storch said. “I would take a dozen of him. He’s one of the hardest working kids I have. He’s a leader. He only knows to do things at one pace and that’s at 100%. Just a top-notch player and a top-notch kid.”
On the football field, Dargis has recorded eight total tackles and one tackle for loss in Alpena’s first two games.
Cook played freshman football last season and has been a part of the varsity team in 2020, handling kicking duties. Amid the uncertainty of this summer, Cook stayed in shape by running five miles a day and attending as many summer conditioning workouts for football as he could.
“I’ve been playing soccer for a long time and my dad convinced me to join football in eighth grade,” Cook said. “I liked it and I kicked extra points.”
On the soccer field, Cook is one of several sophomores who have been pressed into action this season due to graduation losses and figures to be a key player for the Wildcats over the next few years.
He’s gained experience quickly while playing defense for the Wildcats against some of the Big North’s best offensive players.
“He’s a kid with a lot of speed, a lot of potential down the road, but he is truly developing,” Storch said. “He’s improved a lot, and I think there’s a high ceiling for him.”
It’s been a busy season for both players, to say the least, shuffling back and forth to as many practices and games as they can. But they’re both happy to be giving a full effort for their school in two sports they’re passionate about.
“It’s just 100% effort, trying to do as much as I can without having to sacrifice (one sport for the other),” Dargis said.