As horn players go, Copper Basin's Jeremy Wilson is a pretty good high school football player. Or vice versa.
And apparently, the sport was not his first love.
"Last year was his first year playing varsity football," Copper Basin coach Patrick Daley said. "He was a little bit lost. But he did well.
"He was in the band as a freshman and sophomore before we finally got him out for football. At halftime he'd take his pads off and go play the trumpet in the band."
The 6-foot-2, 220-pound two-way lineman has proven to be a beast of a player for the Cougars.
"He's just an animal in the weight room. He's bench-pressed 310 pounds, which is probably our record since I've been here," said Daley, who is entering his ninth season as head coach.
Copper Basin is coming off a tough season but does return eight starters on both sides of the ball.
"I feel very confident we can get the job done," Wilson said. "Most of us played together last year. We haven't lost anybody to injury like we did last year. We lost two good linemen before we played any games."
Daley added that Wilson can also squat 500 pounds, power-clean 275 and dead-lift 425. So despite his lack of years of previous playing experience, Wilson quickly has become an anchor on a line that must perform well if the Cougars are going to perform well.
"We've got a big responsibility, but I think we can handle it," Wilson said. "We just want to win football games and have fun doing it."
- Kelley Smiddie
COPPER BASIN COUGARS
Head coach: Patrick Daley (34-52 in eight years here and overall)
Last year: 1-9
Returning starters (O/D/K): 8/8/1
(all gamesat 7:30 Eastern unless noted)
Aug. 22 - at Coalfield
Aug. 29 - Hayesville (N.C.)
Sept. 5 - at Silverdale Baptist Academy*
Sept. 12 - Tellico Plains
Sept. 19 - Andrews (N.C.)
Oct. 2 - Tennessee Christian, 7
Oct. 10 - at Marion County, 8
Oct. 17 - at Boyd-Buchanan*
Oct. 24 - at Lookout Valley
Oct. 31 - Grace Academy*
* District 5-A game
WR/RB/DB Aaron English (6-2, 180, Sr.) mainly has been a receiver in the Cougars' spread offense, but he's bigger now and could play more often at running back in the switch to a wing-T. And although he's gotten bigger, he's still got speed. RB/LB Ryan Brooks (5-10, 160, Sr.) is a former defensive end who has flourished since moving to middle linebacker, where he was the team's leading tackler last season. He's also the backup quarterback. The size and strength of G/DE Jeremy Wilson (6-2, 220, Sr.) are valued greatly on both sides of the line of scrimmage. Daley said he's worked especially hard in the weight room.
Daley said he didn't think RB/LB Quantavious Brown (5-10, 185, Sr.) was as committed in previous seasons, but in his final year he and the other five seniors are out to earn some respect. QB/DB Jackson Ledford (6-0, 170, Jr.) took over as quarterback the final four games of last season, and Daley said that was when things began coming together. He's a combination runner and passer and could be a better fit in the new offense. The coach said OT/NG Hunter Newman (5-11, 250, So.) became explosive in practice once the players were allowed to put on pads and could play some at defensive end, too.
Q. When was the last time Copper Basin didn't have a winning record in an even-numbered year?
The Cougars were 3-7 in 2008 but had state-playoff seasons of 10-2 and 8-4 in 2010 and 2012. Could this year being even-numbered be a good omen? In the last three odd-numbered years their combined record was 10-21.
By the numbers
3 - Teams not from Tennessee on Copper Basin's 10-game schedule this season (two from North Carolina and one from Georgia)
4 - Eighth-graders on Copper Basin's roster of 26.
70 - The combined points the Cougars scored in splitting their last two games last season, which were eight more points than their total while losing the first eight games.