Stone Bridge RB Jared Cole (Photo: Andy Hilton/recruit757)
Practice opens in Ashburn with Jared Cole and Stone Bridge ready to take the next step
by Jim McGrath, recruitNoVA
As Stone Bridge prepares to make yet another state championship run at the Class 5 level, their star running back is ready to cap his successful prep career before heading north to don the dark red, gray, and black of the Massachusetts Minutemen.
But Jared Cole knows there is still unfinished business to take care of in Ashburn.
On the heels of last year’s disheartening 37-26 state final loss to four-time defending champion Highland Springs, the rising senior and his teammates are ready for the challenge of winning states.
“I think we have a good shot. Obviously we need to grow as a team over the season but we have play makers all over field on offense, and a strong defense this year,” said Cole, who will return to his tailback position this year as the featured back. “I think we also have a lot more experience from the season last year and know what it takes to get to the (state final) game and to win it.”
Last season saw the emergence of the 5-9, 180-pound Cole as a quick threat and added weapon to a backfield that also included Nick Mell and his 1,200 yards of rushing. Cole, however, made his own mark, rushing for over 1,000 yards on just 87 carries for an eye-popping 12-yard per carry average. His hands were also a benefit for the Bulldogs out of the backfield as the junior grabbed 20 catches for 306 yards. In all, Cole accounted for 1,426 total yards and 18 touchdowns, as Stone Bridge marched to a 12-3 record, stunning Broad Run in the 5C Region championship before falling to the Springers in the Class 5 state championship.
In the Broad Run game, it was Cole’s 30-yard rushing touchdown that gave the Bulldogs a 21-6 lead just before halftime and took all of the home field momentum away from the Spartans.
Cole’s versatility captured the eye of several schools, including Maryland and Georgetown. Yet in the end, it was running back Coach Fredi Knighten from UMass who made the winning pitch to earn the services of the Minutemen’s new running back. In fact, UMass may have extra plans for Cole, who has also returned a few punts and kickoffs for Coach Mickey Thompson.
Says Cole, “They (UMass) want me at running back, but see me able to catch balls out of the backfield, play in the slot a little, but primarily running back.”
In other words, a role similar to another favorite football son from New England – one Julian Edelman.
The Bulldogs will launch their regular season on August 30, with an away opener against Centreville.
– Jim McGrath