Photo by Jeff Yoder
Your Prep Sports
IOWA CITY – Cole Mabry has watched a lot of football in his life.
First as a child following his favorite sport, then as a player studying film and eventually as a recruit taking in games Mabry has spent many afternoons and evenings watching football.
Never had Mabry found himself more invested in a football game than two weeks ago when he turned on the 119th playing of the Army vs. Navy game.
An Army commit since July the West High senior sat on edge for three hours on December 8th as his future team held on for a 17-10 win over Navy for its third consecutive win in the historic series.
“That was probably the most exciting football game I have ever watched that I have not been playing in,” Mabry said. “The excitement of it and knowing that is a lot of my teammates and that will be me next year gave it a whole new level of excitement.”
Many football-starved fans tune into the annual Army Navy game played in December on an otherwise quiet Saturday for major college football.
For Mabry the game has held a special meaning for several years.
As early as junior high Mabry dreamed of playing football at one of the service academies and would tune into the Army Navy game to watch as the football world turned its attention to those programs for an afternoon.
Mabry watched this year’s game with extra anticipation and on Wednesday’s national signing day Mabry’s dream became a reality as he signed to continue his football career at Army.
“It’s always cool watching that game but it gave it a whole different level this year,” Mabry said. “It’s been a dream of mine to go to a service academy since about junior high so that game is always kind of the symbol throughout the whole year of what those places are all about.”
Mabry emerged as one of the state’s top defensive prospects as a senior and finished his prep career with 167 tackles.
A three-year starter, Mabry helped West High to a 31-6 record and a pair of Class 4A state runner-up finishes during his varsity career.
“Cole falls right in line with a lot of the players that we have had go through this program and if he’s not the number one he’s right there,” West High coach Garrett Hartwig said. “He’s a special kid, we are going to miss him in the program but he can always be somebody that we can point to for younger players to demonstrate what hard work can get you, what focus will get you. He deserves everything he gets.”
Mabry earned scholarship offers from Iowa State and Northern Iowa but committed to Army before his senior season.
A 6-foot-2, 190-pound linebacker/safety hybrid Mabry was a third-team Class 4A all-state pick this fall after making 47 tackles including 29 solo stops and 4.5 tackles for loss while playing all over the field.
A three-sport athlete who also plays basketball and runs track Mabry said signing on Wednesday allows him to turn his focus to the final months of his prep career as well as prepping for next fall.
“I was committed all along but this is the last deal and to make it official it feels good,” Mabry said. “Now I can get their lifting program and start looking a head a little more. I’m just thankful to be able to play basketball and compete in high school for two more sports.”
Mabry will report to Army in July along with the rest of the first year Cadets for what amounts to basic training.
“It’s unique compared to other Division 1 schools for football,” Mabry explained. “Everyone shows up around July 1st and that is when you have basically basic training everything from how to make your bed to learning the ranks and everything you need to know.”
Following more than a month of strenuous Army training football begins in August.
Mabry knows it will be a challenge but believes he is preparing well for the regime he will face this fall.
“I think playing three sports prepares me pretty well for the military type training,” Mabry said. “I try to do some push up and pull ups at the end of my lifts. The long distance running might be the hardest thing because I’m used to much shorter running.”
Hartwig has no doubt Mabry is made for the type of challenge that being a student athlete at a service academy presents.
“I can’t think of anyone that would be more prepared for that than Cole,” Hartwig said. “His integrity, his responsibility, his maturity his focus, his intelligence his athletic ability he’s ready.”