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Southern Nash High senior Quinton Cooley has no problem following in the footsteps of his former Firebirds backfield mate Zonovan “Bam” Knight, now the leading rusher at N.C. State University.
No, Cooley hasn’t rescinded his verbal commitment to Wake Forest University to join Knight and the Wolfpack next season, but the 5-foot-8, 193-pound Cooley will end his high school career, like Knight, in the Shrine Bowl of the Carolinas.
Cooley became the ninth Firebird all-time to be selected for duty in the 83rd annual postseason all-star game between high school players from North Carolina and South Carolina when the rosters were released Sunday.
“It’s a honor to have another Southern Nash player to be in the Shrine Bowl after Zonovan!” Cooley said in a Twitter direct message Monday afternoon. “I’m very thankful.”
Knight was the offensive MVP for the North Carolina team in the 2018 Shrine Bowl after rushing for 151 yards.
Cooley is one of 44 players on the North Carolina roster for the game, scheduled for Saturday, Dec. 21, at Gibbs Stadium on the campus of Wofford College in Spartanburg, South Carolina.
The other Firebirds to be picked for the Shrine Bowl were Tahj Deans in 2015, Aaron McFarland (2010), Phillip Dobbins (2009), Kwamaine Battle (2006), Nick Williams (2006), Julius Peppers (1997) and Lamont Avent (1991).
“I think he’ll represent our school well and he’s proven that time and time again,” said Southern Nash head coach Brian Foster, who coached all eight of the other Shrine Bowl selections, including the last seven in his 22 seasons as head coach. “I think he’s done the things he’s supposed to do on and off the field.”
Cooley, who ran for five touchdowns and caught another in Southern Nash’s 55-27 win at South Granville, is the top rusher in The Wilson Times readership area with 609 yards and 14 TDs on 46 carries. Last season alongside Knight, Cooley ran for 1,756 yards and 30 touchdowns. His 413 rushing yards in the Firebirds’ second-round playoff loss to Eastern Alamance are a school record.
“If we put him on defense, he can play. Same with special teams,” Foster said. “He’s a football player and loves to play.”