After earning All-State honors as a junior, Thomas Cooper has once again played his way to the Class AA team as a senior for the Salem Greyhounds.
Cooper also landed on the 6th annual KAIT K8 Coaches Super Team as an offensive linemen for the second year in a row, one of only two players to repeat the honor from last year.
The K8 Super Team members are selected by coaches throughout northeast Arkansas.
Cooper (6-0, 260) thoroughly had his way with 3AA opponents this year, whether playing on the offensive or the defensive side of the football. Didn't matter to Cooper if the player he flattened was a linebacker or an opposing quarterback. The bottom line was, he's going down.
According to first-year Greyhound Head Coach Ed Kelley, Cooper's worth was doubled because of his high level of play on both sides of the ball for Salem.
"He's just a good, solid player both ways," Kelley said. "He was probably the most dominant lineman both ways in the conference."
Dominant. That word seems to come up a lot when talking about Cooper, a mainstay for the Hounds since his sophomore season. Cooper has the speed and footwork necessary when acting as a pulling guard, yet has the brute force to shrug off a double-team and level a ballcarrier.
While at the top of the tackle charts for Salem on defense, Cooper also had near 50 dominant blocks on the offensive side of the football.
"Yeah, without a doubt he was the most dominant player up front in the 3AA," said Kelley. "Strength-wise, he really had no rival in the conference. He's as strong as they come."
And while much of the attention Cooper garners comes from his play on defense, Kelley is quick to point out Cooper has no drop-off in production while on offense.
"People forget just how good he is on offense," he said. "It's easier to see what he does on defense, making all those tackles and getting to the quarterback and all, but he's just such a good offensive lineman, as well. And sometimes that's just harder for people to see. But really, he could do it all."