Kosco expects Poland revival

POLAND — There aren’t too many high school quarterbacks who can say they started as a freshman, and there are even fewer who can say they started 9-0 and took their team to the playoffs. For Poland junior quarterback Cole Kosco, that was exactly what happened.

However, after experiencing the highs of high school football at a young age, he soon got a taste of the lows. As a sophomore in 2016, Kosco continued to make strides as a player, but unfortunately, under first-year coach Ryan Williams, the Bulldogs limped to a 4-6 record, losing three straight to end the season and missing the postseason for the first time in a decade.

“Me and coach talked at the end of last season, ‘Yeah last season, 4-6, you never want to go through that,’ “ Kosco said. “But I feel that it was best for me, as a quarterback.

“Understanding how to lose. My freshman year, we started out 9-0, and I felt like I was on top of the world — I could never lose. That’s not always the best thing, so last year was kind of a wake-up call and you’re not the best, you need to work, and I went back to work.”

Kosco certainly put in plenty of work this offseason, which included transforming both his body and mind. Kosco added 35 pounds and almost an inch of height this offseason, as he now stands at 6-foot-3, 210 pounds.

Kosco gave up basketball to allow himself an opportunity to get better physically, but it’s the mental side of his game that saw the most improvement. According to Williams, Kosco is already seeing the field better, which should only benefit a Bulldog squad that returns four starting offensive linemen and talented do-it-all running backs and receivers like Jonah Spencer and Mike Diaz.

“(Cole’s) decision-making (has really improved),” Williams said. “Being able to make the right read. He can make all the right throws, but he’s been working real hard on when to make the right throw, (because) you can’t just force the ball where you want, you’ve got to take what they’re giving you and make an effective throw.”

Leadership has been arguably Kosco’s biggest improvement, as the junior believes he has always been a leader, but he feels less intimidated than when he was younger, back when he was trying to deal with veteran players who he had virtually no prior playing experience with.

Some believe quarterbacks are born leaders and are expected to carry that responsibility at all times. It should come as no surprise then who Kosco idolizes in regards to NFL quarterbacks.

“Peyton Manning is always my favorite. I focus a lot on college and those quarterbacks, (but) Peyton Manning and Tom Brady are my two favorites,” Kosco said. “I like how (Brady) leads his offense and the stuff he does, and Peyton Manning, how smart he is. Obviously they all can throw, but it’s what they can do with the mental game.”

Kosco has always been a quarterback, going back to his youth as a flag football player. In fact, football is his favorite sport, and he says that unlike baseball, which he plays for fun and is more of an individual-laden game, football is about the team’s success and not what he personally puts up in the box score.

That leadership and mentality are exactly what the Bulldogs need to taste postseason success once again. For Kosco, a return trip to the playoffs requires his team to stay true to themselves.

“I think just doing what we do. I feel like our team’s much more prepared with our leaders,” Kosco said. “We had like 18 returning starters (last year), but I feel the leaders this year are much better. It will help us a lot.”