High School Football

Fort Worth Dunbar cornerback replaces QB, leads critical win

Dunbar cornerback/quarterback Leon’te Cooper, 6, scrambles for a first down Sept. 23 against Heritage. Cooper took over at quarterback in the first quarter against Birdville and led the Wildcats to a 28-24 win, keeping Dunbar’s postseason hopes alive.
Dunbar cornerback/quarterback Leon’te Cooper, 6, scrambles for a first down Sept. 23 against Heritage. Cooper took over at quarterback in the first quarter against Birdville and led the Wildcats to a 28-24 win, keeping Dunbar’s postseason hopes alive. Special to the Star-Telegram

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Leon’te Cooper, CB/QB, Fort Worth Dunbar

His night: Cooper didn’t start Friday’s game at quarterback, but he finished there against Birdville. The cornerback took over in the backfield after Nakkia Cox was ejected in the first quarter. Cooper responded by completing 12 of 18 passes for 202 yards. He also added 45 yards and a touchdown on the ground to help Dunbar stay alive in the playoff race with a 28-24 win over Birdville. Cooper, also playing defense, sealed the victory with a late interception of Hawks quarterback Clayton Beeter.

His story: Cooper, a 6-foot sophomore, typically plays cornerback, a position he played at the varsity level last season as a freshman. He has played quarterback in place of Cox at various points of the season. One of many two-way athletes for the Wildcats, Cooper has 59 yards rushing and 60 yards receiving for the offense this year.

His goals: Cooper said he didn’t set any specific goals for the season. “I just wanted to go out there and have fun with my team and go to the playoffs and get as far as we can.”

Most memorable moment: Cooper said Friday night was the highlight of his career thus far. “That’s the best game I’ve ever played and the best memories,” he noted.

His favorite player: Cooper said he looks up to former Dunbar cornerback Ashton Lampkin, now at Oklahoma State.

He said: “I go into a game looking forward to playing any position and doing anything for the team. [Friday night] all happened so fast, I just had to calm down and play my game at quarterback. It was the linemen. They just kept talking to me, telling me they had my back and telling me to calm down. Coach just kept telling me to take my time and play my game. [The victory] felt so good and made me so happy because I really want to go to the playoffs. We all want to go to the playoffs.”

Coach Todd Lawson said: “That was the good thing about it, was that he didn’t have an opportunity to get nervous. I already knew as far as speed of the game that he was going to be fine.

“Cooper is a passer. Coop can throw the ball. He can fling that ball down the field. We knew he was capable of doing it. I just had to get on him to make sure he wasn’t trying to do too much. Just get the ball to your guys. He got that game under his belt, and he knows I don’t have a problem putting him in there.”

Notable: Leon’te Cooper’s younger brother, Aaron, is a freshman also playing on the Wildcats’ varsity squad.

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