Christopher Wuensch, CWuensch@ExplorerNews.com
Nov. 9, 2005 - The play was a fluke, drawn up during halftime of Salpointe Catholic's Oct. 21 game against Sierra Vista Buena High School. It called for Salpointe running back Nicholas Cole to roll out and hit fellow North-sider Joey Cacciatore on the fly.
It worked perfectly, if not a bit wobbly, going for 43-yards and setting up an eventual score in Salpointe's 43-10 win.
Despite a career passing rating of 119 - 1 for 1 - the effort is lost to the ages, buried by his own 123-yard rushing, three touchdown performance to clip the Colts.
But that's Cole, the consummate teammate willing to do whatever it takes to get his team a win. This year, wins for Salpointe are plentiful and often the payout for the senior's efforts. With Cole in the backfield, Salpointe (8-2, 5-0 5A Southern Region) has reeled off six straight wins and has the Lancers poised for a run into the state playoffs.
In 10 regular season games, the Foothills resident has amassed 1,076 yards on the ground for the Lancers, averaging a little more than nine yards per carry. The only thing that dwarfs his 1,000-yard season is his team high 22 touchdowns. Twice this season - against Skyline High School and Flowing Wells High School - Cole has found the end zone four times
"Nah, it's all about the team," said the running back in an unrehearsed, genuine fashion when asked if he set any goals for himself before the year.
To further aid the squad, he's scored on a fumble recovery while playing defense and has been successful on two, two-point conversions. The senior's 134 points are 72 more than the next closest teammate, Sean Evans.
On defense, he leads the team in fumble recoveries, three, and fumble recovery yards with 86.
Not too bad for a kid who never played football until his freshman year.
"I talked to older kids that were above me and they said just go out and see if you like it," said Cole about his origins in the sport. "It turned out, I fell in love with it and look where I am now."
Not the stereotypical jock, content with sitting in the back of class, head in the clouds dreaming of chalkboard X's and O's, Cole has set a premium on his education.
Next fall he hopes to be walking the campus of an Ivy League school where he can practice medicine. As of now, the short list includes Princeton, Holy Cross and Occidental. The fact that Cole even knows there is such a school named Occidental isn't accidental.
"I pride myself on that before I do football," said Cole of his education. "I work just as hard in the classroom as I do on the football field."
If he's to play on the gridiron of the Ivy League he'll need to bulk up between now and the fall. At 5-feet, 10-inches, the 180-pound Cole is bigger than he was in 2004 when he rushed for 595 yards and 10 touchdowns.
"I put in the effort in the off-season because I knew my role as part of the team, so I put in the extra running, the extra lifting, watching film, talking to coaches."
Salpointe, ranked No. 7, will enter the 5A state tournament this week where the Lancers will take on No. 10 Phoenix St. Mary's High School.