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Doddridge’s Cole James decides on MC

Doddridge’s James decides on MC

Photo by Joe Albright Doddridge County’s Cole James blocks a South Harrison player during a high school football game.

WEST UNION — Doddridge County athlete Cole James’ menacing 6-foot-2, 340-pound frame loomed over the West Virginia Class A sports scene much of the last four years. Whether causing chaos as an offensive or defensive lineman on the football field or flinging the shot put or discus far in the field, the Bulldog consistently dominated in these sports, fall or spring, for head coach Bobby Burnside.

But as each standout performance earned him an all-state recognition, state championships, or national attention in each summer’s Amatuer Athletic Union meets, the list of interested college parties stayed small.

Glenville State, West Virginia Wesleyan and Marietta College formed the pool from which he could make his choice.

“I was kind of surprised but that (developement) is probably from me coming from a Single-A school with 300 kids and there are not many people looking at you,” said James.

Yet, this wasn’t a total drag for him.

The silver lining came in his desire to attend a small school. One goal achieved with his decision to play football for Marietta College over the next four years.

While Pioneers’ head coach Andy Waddle recruited him for the defensive line, James said he will “play wherever I can get some time.” If MC plugs him in on the offensive line, they will instantly gain experience from someone who has “really good football knowledge and knows a lot about the game and technique,” according to Burnside. In fact, James assumed primary blocking duties for four 1,000-yard rushers and anchored what some former Doddridge County players called the best offensive line in the history of the school.

“We ran behind him a lot. He knew it and other teams knew it. When we needed someone to make a hole even against numbers, we went behind No. 74,” said Burnside.

While difficult to escape one of his blocks on offense, containing his 0 technique (nose guard) on defense proved a taller task. “He is hard to move out of there and creates havoc,” said Burnside.

James is excited at the opportunity to improve on both sides. Caleb Riggleman, MC’s current offensive line coach, being named an All-American in 2018 influenced his decision.

“I told him I really wanted to go there and learn from him,” said James. Overall, Riggleman combined with the rest of the coaching staff as a reminder of the Bulldogs’ staff over James’ stay at the school. “It was a pretty easy decision with this,” said James.

When not on the football field, James plans to study the environmental sciences.

“Doddridge County is known for oil and gas and because I plan to stay close to home I figured I better do something that route,” said James. “Though, I will go wherever the work goes.”

As for the possible end of his shotput and discus career at the next level, James remains unconvinced the door is closed for good.

“We will try just football and see where that goes. If I decide to throw, we will go from there,” said James.

Before he approaches any of these topics though, the Bulldog sits in the COVID-19 high school athletics’ shutdown period and awaits the announcement on the determination and plausibility of a spring season.

“I have been going to Gorilla Strength three times a week to stay in shape. Even if we just get two or three meets I would definitely like to throw,” said James.

The senior has big plans following a season where he captured a state championship in the discus and a silver effort in the shotput. He expects to add school and state records in both to his resume.

If this doesn’t happen, he said he will continue to prepare for summer camp at Marietta.

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