YAIAA preview: Healthy Cooper part of Biglerville's bigger plan
Scott Cooper spent much of his sophomore and junior seasons watching from the sidelines as his Biglerville teammates played without him.
The running back/cornerback dislocated his elbow in 2013 and broke three bones in his foot in 2014, but he said he feels "100 percent" as he prepares for the 2015 season.
"They both felt like fluke injuries for me," Cooper said. "When I'm playing, it's out of my head."
The Canners hope both those injuries were in fact flukes because they have aspirations of not only making a second-straight Class AA playoff appearance, but of hosting a playoff game.
Cooper will be one of many seniors in the Canners starting lineup when they take the field, and expectations for him and his team are high. Despite playing in just eight of the Canners' 11 games in 2014, he led the team in both rushing and receiving yards — he amassed 526 yards on the ground and 280 in the air — and registered 41 tackles and tied for the team lead with three interceptions.
"It's very important to have him out there," Biglerville coach Alex Ramos said. "Anytime you have one of your better athletes on the field, as opposed to not, you can do more scheme-wise. Confidence-wise, for the other players around him, you feel more confident when you have your best guys are out there. It's huge for everybody."
With Cooper healthy, the Canners figure to be a major player in the YAIAA Division III title race, especially with traditional power Bermudian Springs returning just one starter from last year's 10-0 team. The Canners have made the playoffs in two of the last three seasons and return the majority of a team that lost, 38-3, at top-seeded Berks Catholic in last season's first round.
"It makes us more hungry," Canners offensive lineman Victor Lopez said. "The atmosphere was crazy, it makes us want to have a game at home. Having our own home crowd cheering us on for a playoff game would be huge for the community, that's a major goal."
Biglerville needs to finish in the top four in the District 3 Class AA power rankings in order to host a playoff game, and the team likely needs to win at least nine games to attain that ranking. Of the four YAIAA teams that have hosted playoff games in the past three years, three went 10-0 and one went 9-1.
As Cooper prepares to play what he hopes is a full season, that team goal is the one he's most focused on.
"It'd be nice to get 1,000 yards, and I know that I can behind the great offensive line I have," Cooper said. "But I'm not really focused on me, it's all about the team and having all 11 players play as one and reach our team goal, which is to host a game in the playoffs."