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Gentle giant has chance to leave a big impression

By: Joshua Ansley Sports Corner
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I interviewed Del Oro’s 6-foot, 4-inch, 316-pound offensive lineman Ryan Cope during Del Oro’s three-day stay in Las Vegas. I never heard him talk at all aside from doing the interview. While I may not have heard from him, I always knew where he was. He’s kind of hard to miss. During the interview, Cope struck me as someone who has to be hit a few times before he’ll use his massive frame to wallop anyone else. Still, I wouldn’t mind having him around if I was walking down a dark alley late at night. I got the sense that Cope is the kind of player who will only get better. So far, his size put him where he is, but for the rest of his career, it will be his determination getting him where he wants to go. Cope’s demeanor is such that I can’t imagine him ever having any real enemies off the field. His easy-going style makes him the kind of guy you never mind being around. There are a lot of talented players on Del Oro’s football team this year. Cope just struck me as the kind that doesn’t come along very often. The lack of attention his position on the field gets makes me want to showcase it even more. Maybe part of me just feels like I owe something to the big men who always protected little me. ••• It’s a crazy thing to return to a small town after being gone for five years as I was. From my senior year at Del Oro on through my freshman year at Sierra College, I worked as a teachers aid for the 4-H After-school Childcare Program at Loomis Grammar School. When I left for college in southern California I never thought I would ever see any of the kids again. Then just a few week ago as I was talking with the Del Oro soccer team, getting ready to preview the upcoming season. I thought I saw a familiar face, but I couldn’t be sure. I asked the student his name. “Dylan Clephane,” he said. And it hit me. I had known Clephane when he attended the after-school program almost a decade ago. We both gave each other that curious look people give acquaintances at the grocery store when they recognize each other, but not well enough to feel comfortable striking up a conversation. I found out he is a senior and I walked away. Is that not male communication operating at its highest level? ••• The Del Oro football team suffered a tough loss in Fresno on Sept. 11, losing to Clovis West High 47-7. The loss came as a bit of shock considering the Golden Eagles had just beaten Bullard 41-19 the week before, and Bullard beat Clovis West twice last year, winning the second game 35-9. Part of the trouble may have been Del Oro’s inability to stop Clovis West running back Kendall Brock, who has a verbal commitment to play for the University of Nevada in 2011. He rushed for 171 yards and six touchdowns on just 15 carries. Coach Casey Taylor, however, didn’t allow Brock to put the marker on the game. He said the result came from a lack of effort and passion on Del Oro’s part. “It was the worst effort I’ve seen since being at Del Oro,” Taylor said. “I take full responsibility for it. It’s my job to get them ready.” As if Taylor needed any more motivation to play on this Friday at Oak Ridge, the seven-year Del Oro coach will be going up against his alma mater. He graduated from Oak Ridge in 1988. It will be a tough challenge for Del Oro. The Trojans defeated Rocklin High on Sept. 3, and the Golden Eagles lost to Rocklin by a touchdown last season in the Div. II Sac-Joaquin Championship game.