Graduating Lake Mary quarterback standout Gunnar Smith will soon be taking his skills to the University of South Florida as a  summer enrollee, but the Rams have found a capable signal-caller to take his place: Logan Cook.

Cook, who will be a junior this fall, completed 7 of 10 passes for 82 yards and 3 touchdowns in the first half to steer the Rams to a 21-7 spring game victory against visiting Orange City-University. He showed solid leadership early, guiding the Rams to touchdowns on their first two series: a 21-yard pass to Markel Jones and a 30-yard pass to Trevor Wright.

Five different players caught passes from Cook, including Carson Hinshaw on a 32-yard scoring strike.

“Gunnar’s a hard spot to fill,” said Cook, who played wide receiver last year. “He is a great leader, a great football player. But I’m very happy to be able to take over for him. I think we all played really well.”

The play of Cook, who served as Smith’s backup the last two seasons, likely will be pivotal to Lake Mary’s success this fall. The Rams are coming off a 10-2 season in which they advanced to the Class 8A regional semifinals. Smith led Lake Mary to multiple playoff appearances in four seasons, including a regional final in 2020 when it lost to Apopka, 7-6.

“I thought he did great for his first time as the man in charge of the offense,” Lake Mary coach Scott Perry said of Cook. “He had a good arm, he moved his feet. He didn’t have very many mentals (mistakes) on his part. Really showed some good leadership. We’re very happy with our new-look offense.”

Lake Mary also got some nice offensive performances from running back Manqwez Lang (5-foot-10, 205 pounds), a workhorse who rumbled for 73 yards on just 3 carries in the first half; and Hinshaw, who caught 4 passes for 51 yards in the early going. Rising sophomore running back Isaiah Thomas also showed great speed for the Rams, and receiver Caden Harshberger played well.

Meanwhile, University will be looking to retool its offense with the loss of quarterback Taz Figueroa and having to play many young players. Cameron Jackson and Malachi Walters split time at quarterback, with Jackson faring the best in passing. Both also can run and catch, making University’s offense a diverse one for defenses to face.

Jackson threw a 32-yard TD pass to Jermaine Hayes in the second quarter and totaled nearly 90 passing yards.

“I thought they worked hard,” University coach Brian Kells said. “It was a good game. We came out a little tentative. We have a little bit of younger nucleus of guys so I expected (us being a little tentative) a little bit. I felt that as the game wore on, we improved and starting showing confidence, a lot of great things to build on.”

This report was first published at Orlandosentinel.com. Varsity Content Editor Buddy Collings can be reached by email at bcollings@orlandosentinel.com.

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