By Jim Misunas
Beloit-St. John’s middle linebacker Cooper Jermark has a quick response why he enjoys high school football.
“I look forward to Friday Night Lights all year long,” he said. “It’s incredibly exciting having family, friends and fans watch us put our heart and soul into a game we love. After I graduate, I may never suit up again. That’s why I leave it all on the field.”
Jermark anchors the Blujays’ defense with 158 tackles, an average of 17.6 per game.
“Cooper plays to the inside of our formations and excels on defending the rush through the middle of the field,” said Beloit St. John’s coach Dean Gengler. “He hustles to get to outside plays as well. He has a nose for the football.”
Jermark enjoys being the center of attention defensively.
“I enjoy middle linebacker because I can control our defense,” he said. “From the middle linebacker spot, I have complete vision of the opponent’s offense.”
Jermark has started at linebacker since his freshman season.
“Cooper’s style is aggressive and hard hitting,” Gengler said. “Cooper is very important to our defense. Cooper has a lot of experience. He knows what to do in multiple positions and has the ability to do it.”
The 6-foot, 175-pound Jermark uses quickness and instincts to make an impact defensively in the 8-man game.
“I watch the guards, quarterback, and the fullbacks/running backs for my keys,” Jermark said. “If you pay attention, they give the play away.”
Gengler doesn’t worry about Jermark getting tied up with blockers.
“We move Cooper around if the situation allows, but we don’t sacrifice other players to protect Cooper from being blocked,” Gengler said. “He is determined not to be blocked, so he works on playing through blockers to get to the tackles and hustling.”
Jermark had three interceptions and two fumble recoveries last year.
“I do enjoy picking off the quarterback, but I really enjoy being physical and stopping the run game,” Jermark said. “Guards and the center are the guys blocking me depending on our defensive formation.”
Gengler respects that Jermark is a leader by example.
“Though aggressive on the field, Cooper is our leader by example more than someone who talks a lot.”
Gengler and Jermark agree that the Blujays’ team success is what matters. The Blujays finished 4-5 and lost to state champion Axtell 48-0 in the playoffs.
“Honestly, I don’t think about personal goals,” Jermark said. “I concentrate on what our team needs to succeed. Our team goal has always been to win a state football championship. I push myself to myself to give 110% to every practice and game.”
Gengler said. “Our goals are to get the district championship and advance farther into the playoffs.”