Doddridge County’s Cole James is always hungry

Bulldog looks for constant improvement

Photo provided Doddridge County’s Cole James brings down a Tygarts Valley ballcarrier in a 2018 regular-seaosn contest. James, who was named to the W.Va. Class A All-State First Team O-line, yearns to keep improving in whatever he does whenever he can find time.

WEST UNION — Doddridge County Bulldog rising senior Cole James stands out instantly with a 6-foot-3, 340-pound frame.

His healthy appetite for success keeps him in the spotlight.

James is a big man with big goals going as far back as the sixth grade, when he realized his enjoyment for discus, shotput and football.

Goals even when achieved only serve as a springboard toward the next accomplishments. Where money burns a hole in pockets of other people, free time is the currency shortly kept around by James.

“There’s always time to get better. It takes extra work to be better than everybody and get to the next level,” said James who adds regular training at Gorilla Strength and Fitness in Nutter’s Fork on top of lifting for football.

Superior results require superior training.

And the returns have been stellar.

There’s a good reason his 2019 W.Va. Class A discus state championship plaque remains unplaced in his room at home, even if the prep season ended a month ago.

His winning throw of 150-03 outpaced last year’s runner-up effort by nearly 10 feet. By contrast, the then-reigning event champion, Sherman’s Tommy Harper, improved his winning throw of 146-11 by close to three feet. Continued consistent improvement would put James seven feet away from Gilmer County’s Nathan Stout’s state record of 167 even.

Results like those are hard to beat especially as James throws at the AAU level with colleges in attendance at each summer meet.

But, the discus numbers weren’t the only improvement.

James blasted up the state leaderboard of the shotput event one season after a 12th place finish. Magnolia’s Jakob Burrows may have taken home the gold, but the Bulldog claimed a second place finish after an improvement of 9-foot-6.

Burrows will be his main competition again next season.

“He is definitely good competition for me and it is anyone’s game next season,” said James. “Anything can happen at states and I did what I did and he did what he did.”

His improvements should help him in AAU as well. Indeed, they already have as James took first place in the shotput and discus in the first regional qualifier for the Region IV meet, which includes parts of Ohio, New York, Pennsylvania and West Virginia.

Passionate as he is about the throws, football stands as equally important.

His prowess on both lines of the football team since his freshman year makes him an outstanding multi-sport athlete. Few opponents if any left the field and weren’t impressed with him. Williamstown head coach Terry Smith complimented him after the Bulldogs’ 14-7 win over the Yellowjackets this season.

“He is a tough guy to move in the middle. Any team would be lucky to have him,” said Smith.

Doddridge consistently moved the football in the mud of a downpour. Williamstown’s defense couldn’t get much going either as James invited himself into the backfield multiple times on the evening and busted up several plays.

How else would one rack up 80 tackles from a lineman position? A total, by the way, he hopes raises significantly this season he says with a bit of a confident tone.

“I would like to get to 100 tackles this season and I will be bigger, stronger and harder to stop for sure,” he said with a slight smile.

Doddridge coaches can be sure he will do his best to get there too. His passion goes beyond results.

“It is interesting to see how much I can improve in one year. I try to improve as much as I can and it feels rewarding,” said James.

He was already working to get ahead during a Bulldog football weight session Thursday at the high school. While teammates waited for others to show up, James worked with resistance bands and performed naked barbell chest presses.

James wants to make sure he lives up to having his all-state picture on the wall at Doddridge County High School, an achievement he very much cherishes.

“It feels great and it is a rare thing that not many people get so I am glad I have it,” he said.

If people haven’t learned by now, James is coming and he won’t stop anytime soon.