By NICK SLOAN, NJSloan212@gmail.com
There are seniors leaders.
And then there's Keaton Cofield.
Cofield, the senior cornerback for the Piper Pirates football team, is the perfect coach's player.
Having become a fan of his the last two years, he was one of the players I came out to watch for the Piper Pirates-Tonganoxie Chieftains game.
What I saw amazed me.
First, Cofield is a great defender.
Tonganoxie avoided Cofield with its passing game in a similar manner I stay away from the Lifetime Channel - as far as possible. Cofield has a presence on the field. You don't throw his way without the risk of getting burned.
He made a huge interception last week in Piper's upset win against Basehor-Linwood. He didn't have a chance to do so tonight, but he makes a difference even if he doesn't touch the ball.
Cofield is a tremendous tackler, especially for a position that has a negative stigma about it in terms of being physical and being able to tackle.
He's not afraid to make blocks in special teams.
Still, his tackling and his abilities in pass coverage are the second and third things he does best for the Piper Pirates.
What particularly impressed me was how this young man led his defense all night long.
He was barking orders to the sideline after the coaches called a certain formation on defense. He was calling out players from the sideline, telling them to get on the field.
He was helping other players get in position and he was not afraid to lead.
You know how Peyton Manning leads his offense like an orchestra? He constantly points, moves and yells at his players to get into position. That's what makes Manning among the best quarterbacks ever.
He's not a football player - he's a general stuck in a jersey.
Cofield is the same way.
I have covered KCK football for about five years. This will be my fourth full season covering the gridiron in Wyandotte County.
I've never seen a defensive leader like Cofield.
That's not hyperbole. I make it an effort to stand on the sidelines during each game simply because it gives me a better feel for the game. I'm able to see which players are leaders and which ones are followers.
There's no doubt with Cofield.
If I had to vote for the 2012 KCK Defensive Player of the Year Award this weekend, Cofield is my choice - easily.
Cofield has dramatically improved from his sophomore season, the first year he started for the Pirates.
But don't take my word about Cofield's leadership - just ask Pirates head coach Chris Brindle.
"He started becoming a leader this offseason," Brindle said. "He had a weight-lifting class after football season, but he still came in and lifted weights after school. He bought into what we're doing. His leadership stands out. What happens with him, they (teammates) follow him."
Cofield and running back Paul Jones are the two main captains of this year's Pirates team.
The word captain may not be strong enough for Cofield.
The word "general" is more appropriate.