Senior Eagle Cope-ing with success

Del Oro’s standout lineman to play for Sacramento State
By: Joshua Ansley Loomis Sports Editor
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Del Oro High football has had its share of standout players. There was Andrew Floor, who went on to play fullback for the Oregon Ducks. There was Randy Fasani, who would go on to play quarterback at Stanford and then the NFL. There was B.J. Mitchell, whose success on the field would take him to the University of Nevada. The names of those players are easily recalled because the position they played garners recognition. We have stats, we have touchdowns, and we can see those types of players make plays with the football in their hands. There aren’t any stats on Ryan Cope. There aren’t any touchdowns. In fact, if he ever gets his hands on the football in a game, it’s probably not a good thing. It can only happen if something goes wrong. Yet, Cope is one of the most important pieces to Del Oro’s offensive attack this season. Cope is a 6-foot, 4-inch, 316-pound senior on the offensive line for the Golden Eagles who has a verbal commitment to play at Sacramento State in 2011. His success can only be measured by other player’s stats. His job is to protect the quarterback at all costs, and give the running back a chance to run through or around. If it appears that Del Oro is running the ball to one side for most of the game, there’s a good chance its because that’s where Cope is lined up. Cope first started playing football in fifth grade for the Del Oro junior midget program. He said his experience was slightly different than it was for his current peers. “I had to play with all the kids that were two years ahead of me because of size,” Cope said. Cope’s experiences due to his size have often made him have to take a different route than others to accomplish the same thing. But Cope has found a way. In fact, having to always play with the older kids seems to have provided Cope with a chance to grow and mature as a person as much as he as grown as an athlete. He gives credit for his maturity to his varsity offensive-line coach, Doug Warner, whom Cope said is his greatest influence on and off the field, aside from his family. “He’s like a mentor to me,” Cope said. “He’s definitely helped shape me to become a better player and a better person. I can pretty much talk to him about anything.” Getting Cope to talk, however, is not always easy. Coach Casey Taylor said Cope is one of those quiet leaders on the field, who tries to lead by example. “He’s not a big talker,” Taylor said. Talker or not, Taylor said Cope does more than just excel as a physical athlete. He is also a good student. “He’s great in the classroom,” Taylor said. “He does a great job on campus.” Those great personal qualities that Cope possesses don’t always translate well on the field, where aggression and tenacity are highly valued. Although Taylor said Cope is the biggest player he’s ever coached, he would like to see him play with more of a mean streak. “I think when he’s playing strong, playing mean, he’s as good as we’ve ever had,” Taylor said. “But I would like to see some more of that mean streak, and some more consistency. He’s a big presence, has tremendous size, and has a lot of potential.” With Cope spending a majority of the off-season getting into better shape, that mean streak and aggression may come out more this season. Cope put on close to 35 pounds while at the same time reducing his 40-yard time to 5.27 seconds. He said he hadn’t lifted as much in the off-season in previous years. But after his junior season he started going to the gym and doing football workouts after school. “I never really worked out in the off-season before,” said Cope. “But I needed to get my 40 time under 5.3 (seconds). So I started working out at Maximum Edge Fitness and I was able to get in a lot better shape.” Being in better shape will ultimately aid Cope the most as he makes the transition from high school to college, where he may be competing with or against guys as big or possibly bigger than him. Cope can only recall playing against one player in his career who was as big as him. “Last year in the playoffs there was a guy from Christian Brothers,” Cope said. “He was as big as me, but he wasn’t stronger than me.” As for Cope’s future, he said he feels good about his upcoming season at Del Oro. He said making the choice to go to Sac-State before this season started should help him enjoy his last year a little more. “Other schools were looking at me, but Sac-State was the most interested,” he said. “I went with them because it got the weight off my chest going into my senior season. Now I don’t have to worry about scholarships, and people watching me. It’s just nice to know I’m going somewhere.”