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Get to know AJC Co-Defensive Player of the Year Cane Cooley

Jan. 16—Grandview senior defensive end Cane Cooley was a force to be reckoned with for the Zebras' defense this year, and he was named as one the 2023 All-Johnson County Co-Defensive Players of the Year as a result. This year, Cooley anchored a Grandview defense that limited the opposition in eight of its 13 games to two scores or fewer. In addition to that, Cooley — who was also named the Defensive MVP of District 7-3A Division I — registered season totals of 83 tackles, 23 TFL, eight sacks and three passes defended to go with three turnovers created.

You were a part of a defense that surrendered only 17.5 points per game this year. What were some strengths you guys had on the defensive side of the ball?

"I think everybody flying to the ball and tackling drills all summer — and all year long — really helped us. Coach (Ryan) Ebner always preached that if one person gets to the ball, then everybody else has to be right behind them."

You did a little bit of everything for Grandview on the defensive side of the ball with 83 tackles, 23 TFL, eight sacks, three passes defended and created three turnovers. What motivated you to play at the level you did?

"I think taking on a new role showed me that I can be good wherever I'm placed. I want to be the best 100 percent. I had a good role last year and tried to absorb as much as I could before taking it to the field."

Even though you could have been an offensive asset, you played where you were needed on defense. Talk about some of the sacrifices you made to help the team succeed?

"I know I can catch and I grew up playing 7-on-7 my whole life, but that position was filled — there's no way I'm going to get ahead of Carter Collins, he can catch everything. So, offense was one thing I had to give up. I was more needed on defense, and I like tackling better than I like getting tackled."

What would you say was your best or most memorable game from the season and why?

"It had to be the West game. Last year, it was hard fought all the way to the fourth quarter, and we just kind of fell apart last season. We had something to prove this season and it was nice to get it done this year. Everybody was very, very excited about beating them to say the least."

What is your greatest memory from being a part of the Grandview football team?

"My most favorite memory was coming in as a new kid where nobody knew me. The only person that knew me was Ryder Hayes. Ryder said, 'This kid, he doesn't have very much brains, but he's good at football.' So I did me. I was a bag of rocks when I got here, but they took me in and I was one of their own — they didn't think anything of it. I'm one of them now."