The rich history of transcendent Western Pennsylvania football athletes is something of folklore. Whether it’s the “cradle of quarterbacks” that gave the world Joe Namath, Johnny Unitas, Joe Montana, Dan Marino and Jim Kelly; or the legendary mill town that claims home to Mike Ditka, Tony Dorsett, Ty Law and Darrelle Revis; the region always gives the nation something to romanticize about.
Up in the northwest part of the region, at Oil City, senior tailback/linebacker Christian Cole is giving us all something to write about. In Friday night’s 58-8 rout of Meadville (Pa.), Cole carried 17 times for a career-high 379 yards to go with four touchdowns, marking the third straight game he eclipsed the 300-yard mark, and fourth time this season through seven games for the 6-1 Oilers.
Judging by these highlights from the record-setting night at Meadville, the 6-foot-1, 205-pound Cole is a problem for a lot of defenses in Class 5A:
According to Oil City head coach Dan York, Cole has put on nearly 40 pounds since last season, when he tipped the scales at 165. It’s unclear where what level he’ll end up at for college football — though some Division 1 colleges have been keeping loose tabs — and linebacker may be where he projects long-term.
“They wrote an article about him,” York told the Meadville Tribune’s Pete Chiodo, about Cole’s camp visit to West Virginia in the summer. “They didn’t know anything about him. It said, ‘Small-school linebacker stuns West Virginia staff.’ And we were kind of disappointed while we were there, because a week before he was in Toledo and he ran a 4.4 (40-yard dash). We were at West Virginia and he did the 40 and it was 4.51. We were like, ‘Dang!’
“But the personnel guy from West Virginia came over and said, ‘Our defensive coordinator would like to talk to you.’ I told him, ‘Well, we were disappointed in that 4.51.’ And he said, ‘That’s one of the fastest times run on our turf all year. This is our practice turf. It’s spongier.’ So all the times were slower. And he gave us a list of the 140-or-so guys that had run the 40, defensive backs, running backs. And Christian was the fastest of them all.”
That speed has translated well to the track, where last spring Cole recorded personals bests of 11.13 in the 100 and 23.27 in the 200.