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Firebirds’ Cooley named to AP all-state team

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RALEIGH — Seniors Quinton Cooley of Southern Nash and Jaquaez Powell of SouthWest Edgecombe were among the 30 high school football players named to The Associated Press all-state team for North Carolina.

Cooley, who led the state in rushing, was one of two running backs while Powell, the Cougars’ 6-foot-4, 315-pound center, was one of six offensive lineman on the 14-player offensive team.

Quarterback Jefferson Boaz of East Surry and Charlotte Vance linebacker Power Echols are offensive and defensive prep football players of the year while Charlotte Vance’s Glenwood Ferebee was named the AP coach of the year. He joined Echols — named the state’s top defensive player by the AP for a second straight season — and all-state defensive back Marqui Lowery in leading the Cougars to the Class 4-AA championship for their first state title in school history.

AREA DUO

Cooley, who has already enrolled at Wake Forest University, rushed for 3,058 yards, the eighth most nationally per MaxPreps.com. His 55 total touchdowns and 358 total points both led the state and were second nationally. He joins 2019 teammate Zonovan Knight, now in his third semester at N.C. State, as an all-state selection.

“It feels pretty good to be known as a great player coming out of Southern,” Cooley said in a telephone interview Monday night.

Firebirds head coach Brian Foster said that Cooley, who left as the program’s single-game and single-season rushing leader, will be hard to replace, but moreso for his leadership and dedication.

“There’s a lot of seniors that we’re going to miss but Quinton is the pinnacle of what we want to get our kids to try to be like,” Foster said, before adding: “But that’s a goal that’s not going to be reached much.”

Cooley helped the Firebirds to a school-record 15 wins, losing only to Charlotte Catholic in the North Carolina High School Athletic Association 3-A championship game in the school’s first state final appearance.

“It’s a season that I’ll never forget about,” said Cooley. “I cherished a lot of moments and made history with Southern.”

Powell was part of a big season at SouthWest Edgecombe, playing every down on offensive line and about half of them on the defensive line. The East Carolina signee helped the Cougars to a 12-2 season, winning the 2-A Eastern Plains Conference and reaching the third round of the state 2-A playoffs.

Powell, who played mostly at center, helped SouthWest rush for 4,067 yards (9.2 per carry). Two Cougars, Demari Mabry and Cortezz Jones, rushed more than 1,000 yards each behind Powell and his line cohorts.

“It’s a high honor and he’s certainly very deserving of it,” said SWE head coach Jonathan Cobb, who added that Powell is the only four-year varsity player in his seven seasons leading the Cougars. “I think it’s quite a special for both Jaquaez and SouthWest Edgecombe.”

Powell, who could not be reached for comment, had 17 pancake blocks.

ALL-STATE TEAM

Echols, a junior who recently committed to North Carolina, was the only unanimous selection on the 31-player squad released Monday after voting from 16 sports writers at newspapers around the state.

Of the offensive side, Boaz led East Surry to the state 1-AA title along with receiver Stephen Gosnell, who also made the AP all-state team. Both have signed with UNC.

Weddington, which won the 3-AA title, had the most all-state picks with three in running back Will Shipley, defensive back Malik Mustapha and punter Ian Williams. Greensboro Dudley and 2-AA champion Shelby each had two all-state picks.

Matthews Butler offensive lineman Anthony Carter and Western Alamance kicker Joshua Karty joined Echols in making the AP all-state team for the second straight season.

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