Taking advantage

Published 12:02 am Thursday, August 7, 2014

0807 spt-Joe Cope

Former Andalusia lineman Joe Cope (77) plays during a game in his high school days. | Courtesy photo

Cope made most of opportunities on field

Getting the opportunity to play Andalusia High School football in front of his family, friends and the home crowd on Friday nights is one memory Joe Cope will never forget.

Cope will get a chance to relive some of those good memories tomorrow night as he will be inducted into the 2014 class of the AHS Football Hall of Fame.

“Being able to go out and represent not only your name on the jersey, but you’re family and most importantly representing the name on the front of the jersey — it gave me a lot of pride,” Cope said. “Wins were always better than losses, but just going out every Friday night was a passion of mine. It’s something I’ll always hold on to.”

Cope, the son of Lucky and Felicia Cope of Andalusia, said he didn’t really expect to be inducted into the HoF.

“With the rich tradition that Andalusia High School has, if you look back at the teams throughout the years, a lot of players were playing with good teams,” he said. “It is an incredible honor to have my name amongst those guys.”

Cope started four years for the Bulldogs from 1998-2001. Beginning in his sophomore year, he started every game on both offense and defense. He was named All-County offensive tackled his junior and senior seasons, and was named the high school’s best offensive lineman, and was elected captain. As a player, he never missed a game in four years.

Cope played under current AHS boys basketball coach Richard Robertson during his freshman year, and then under Paul Woolley his last three years. He added it was pretty special to play on the same field his father played on as well.

“It was great,” he said about his playing time at AHS. “As you know, my father’s from Andalusia and just to be able to follow in his foot steps and play there was something special.”

The former lineman said it was all about the friendships he made with his teammates, “the blood and sweat you put in.”

“It’s an incredible bond with your teammates,” he said. “It’s indescribable. Football in south Alabama is looked at as a real big thing. To be a football player and get playing time was an incredible opportunity.”

Playing on both sides of the ball wasn’t all that bad because of the strict workout regimen Roberston and Woolley had in place, Cope said.

Upon graduation from AHS, Cope went to Auburn University, where he “walked on” to the football team. He was a three-year letterman and two-year starter at center.

Cope started 23 games for the Tigers before tearing his ACL and MCL. At his position, he graded 85 percent or higher in his every start.

He was named the Southeastern Conference lineman of the week against Georgia in 2005, received the Eddie Welch Attitude and Effort Award fro the coaches after spring training and was a member of the offensive line that earned the Coaches Offensive Player of the Week honors against Arkansas.

One thing he took with him to Auburn from his playing days at AHS was a good work ethic.

“It’s all work ethic,” Cope said about what he took with him to Auburn. “When I was at Andalusia, we practiced three to four days a week in pads. The work ethic I took from the blue collar area there to Auburn, it’s something coaches don’t teach.

“That’s what really helped me to be successful at that level,” he said.

After graduation, Cope declined offers to play in the Arena League and NFL Europe.

Cope lives in Destin, Fla., and is married to Kathryn. They have one child, Joseph, who turned a year old last Friday.

Cope also had a brother, Bricken, who also played football at AHS.