By COLLIN BROOKS
It wasn’t the 192-yard Musket Bowl performance for freshman Charlie Cole that earned him the respect of his teammates. It wasn’t even the fact that Cole became the first 9th grader in Daniel Boone history to record 1,000 rushing yards in a season.
It was during the summer workouts, when the 15-year old Cole was pumping 225 pounds on the bench press and making some guys three years his elder look a bit inadequate that really caught senior captain Justin Turner’s attention.
“Charlie. Cole,” said Turner after the Musket Bowl victory, seeming to pause on each name, perhaps thinking about many of the freshman’s bruising runs through the season. “He came in (the weight room) benching 225 for five reps and we were just astonished.”
Cole raised a lot of eyebrows during the season, but the freshman wasn’t bashful during the 46th Musket Bowl. The win helped his team reclaim the musket and cemented his name in history with 1,041 yards on 136 carries.
“He got better as we went on and during the fourth quarter and he just told me ‘Coach, just give me the ball.’ and we did,” Daniel Boone coach Jeremy Jenkins said.
That thoroughbred mentality is in Cole’s blood, his father Charlie Cole, had a 1,000 yard season in 1991, his senior year for the Blazers. The elder Cole helped Boone score a 36-6 win in the Musket Bowl with his 22 carries for 179 yards.
The elder Cole and his wife Sarah, called their son little man during his Junior Toppers days and now have moved onto the nickname Lil’ C. But with his pile-moving and punishing running style, it might be time to update his nickname again.
His father, who went on to play at Emory & Henry, wasn’t being boastful when he talked about his son, but honest.
“Lil’ C is bigger, faster and stronger than I ever was in high school,” the elder Cole said. “He’s already as strong as I was as a sophomore in college.”
His bloodline even runs a bit deeper, as his great uncle, Randy Sanders, is the co-offensive coordinator for Florida State.
But heading into the contest, Cole wasn’t mum about what his goals were during the Musket Bowl.
“(Getting 1,000 yards) is what I sought coming into this game,” Cole said. “I wanted 1,000 yards and I wanted that Musket. I really wanted to do it for the seniors and I have to give thanks to my line for opening up the holes for me and allowing me to run.”
But the freshman also worked for a lot of those yards, as he carried piles of players three to four yards down the field in his impressive performance. No matter, he gave all the glory to his family and teammates.
“My dad is probably the biggest inspiration in my life,” Cole said. “The way he has taught me things, how to grow up to be a bigger man, how to get faster, stronger. What he means to me is just awesome and I can’t describe it… My team is what has brought me this far and I have to thank them first before I take any glory.”
The freshman’s performance brought a lot of smiles to players and coaches on the field after the Musket Bowl victory, but none might have been as big as his head coach’s
“That’s a young man there,” Jenkins said through a smile. “I’m glad that we have him for three more years.”