HILLS -- For most high school football teams, it’s a problem when your outstanding quarterback and your outstanding running back graduate at the same time. Most teams don’t have adequate replacements for the kind of production Hills-Beaver Creek quarterback Gavin Wysong and running back Tyson Bork provided for the Patriots before going out into the real world.
But the Patriots were lucky. After their two thousand-yard runners received their diplomas, one of their highly talented offensive performers remained. That was Cole Baker.
Baker was a wide receiver in his junior year. This year, as a senior, he switched to running back and, from Day One, he has shined as the Patriots’ top offensive threat.
H-BC was one of Minnesota’s best 9-Man teams in 2020 with Wysong and Baker handling the load. In 2021, the Patriots have again distinguished themselves as a state small-school power, with no small thanks to the multi-talented Baker who, until this year at least, was more recognized for his basketball and track skills than as a gridder.
You might even say that football was practically a non-issue for Baker during a portion of his high school athletic career. So much so, in fact, that he didn’t play football in the ninth grade.
“I didn’t really enjoy it when I was younger,” he remarked recently. “And Rex (Metzger, the high school head football coach) kind of convinced me to go out again sophomore year. And I’m really enjoying it senior year. I really like tackling people. It’s pretty fun. It’s a physical sport and I like being physical.”
It’s somewhat ironic that the 6-1, 160-pound Baker, who typically winds up on the sports pages for his offensive production, says he likes to tackle guys. He’s listed as a defensive end on the roster. He may not have enjoyed football as a freshman, but since he returned to the sport he’s gotten all-in.
This week’s Globe focus for the weekly Drill episode, Baker is farm kid whose family raises cattle and pigs and some crops. Like many country people, Cole says he enjoys “just being outside.” After he graduates high school, he plans to attend a technical school and work toward becoming an electrician.
You can see a video of Cole Baker online at www.dglobe.com. Here’s a portion of our interview:
QUESTION: Was making the switch from wide receiver to running back an easy one for you? Did you mind?
ANSWER: “Yeah, I’m OK with that switch. I get the ball some more and help my team out more. … I had a thought that I’d play running back this year just because there’s nobody else, and I practiced a little bit last year.”
QUESTION: You’re a state participant in track and field. What else do you have to say about track?
ANSWER: “For track I ran in the 4x100 for the team, and we went to state. We got sixth place, I think. And I also triple jumped and long jumped. Triple jump is probably my favorite for track. This year I broke the school record for the triple jump.”
QUESTION: Tell us about your game in basketball.
ANSWER: “Basketball, I guess, speed is probably my best quality. I probably like driving in basketball better than shooting threes. Favorite sport, that’s a hard one. Probably basketball. I’ve liked it the most, played it the most, since I was young.”