When asked what it would take to beat Winfield, J.T. Cooper responded "Nothing special." Not that he is over confident, it is just that he knows that if he and his teammates just do their jobs then things should go well tomorrow night. "We just need to get our play makers the ball, and take advantage of all the speed we have."
Cooper a 6'2' 222 lb Junior linebacker is looking for big things for Hurricane this season, "making history" he says, "I want more than a playoff win, we should of had 2 last year, we need to get 2 this season." In fact Cooper is looking forward to a possible playoff rematch with Morgantown, who eliminated the Redskins last year. "We owe them."
J.T. is building a reputation for the big hit. Whether it was sending a 300+lb lineman from Brooke airborne, while his helmet sailed in the opposite direction. Or a few weeks ago during a scrimmage when he crushed a Parkersburg South running back on a would be screen pass, Redskin fans know to keep their eyes on #36 in red and white.
Cooper is Hurricane's leading returning tackler, having registered 94 stops a year ago. "I'd like to get 110 tackles and maybe make All-State, but I would rather lead my team to two playoff victories."
Speaking of leadership, does J.T. believe that on a roster with 15 seniors that he can serve as a leader as a junior? "Well I was a captain twice last season, so I guess the answer is yes, and out on the field during a game it makes no difference, if someone messes up, if it's a freshmen or a senior, I'll let them know about it."
When saying that, perhaps Cooper is reflecting on someone who always let him know when HE messed up last season. Playing with his brother Lucas was something special that he will miss this season. "He pushed me all the time to get better, he always let me know when I made a mistake." Lucas was selected All-State a year ago after leading the Redskins with 104 tackles. "With Lucas gone there will be a lot of tackles available that need to be made." Rest assured that Lucas' brother will be there to get more than the 94 he had in 2016.
One statistic that Cooper wants more of is sacks. "I only had 1 last year," he said disappointingly. However as he looks at things entering the 2017 season he points to 2 key factors that will help him be better. "I know our defense better than I did at this point last year, I know everyone's assignments, I know what (Defensive coordinator) Pratt's expectations are." Cooper also added, "We have seen every team's offense that we play (except Pikeville) so we know what to expect."
Beside the season opener against The Generals and a possible playoff rematch with Morgantown, J.T. pointed out another game he is specifically looking forward to, "GW, first of all they embarrassed me and my teammates last year 35-2. Also I have never beaten them at any level all the way back to midget league."
Bottom line he wants more this year, "I just want this team to be better." With Cooper leading the way it hard to argue that he WILL get what he wants!