By Kyle LoJacono
Jamari Cord was planning to leave the Gaither football program two years ago.
The outside linebacker had just gone through 1-9 and 3-7 seasons with the Cowboys as a freshman and sophomore, respectively, and was looking for a fresh start.
That’s what Jason Stokes offered when he took over as Gaither’s coach.
“He came and had a meeting with the parents and players before my junior year, and I sat down and listened and really bought into what he had to say,” Cord said. “I’m glad I did, because if I’d left I probably wouldn’t be signing today.”
Cord signed April 30 to play at Hampton University in Virginia. He was joined by teammate Justyn Jacoby, a lineman who inked with University of Charleston in West Virginia.
The duo helped Gaither win 17 games the last two years, which included two playoff berths, a regional finals appearance and a district championship as seniors.
“It taught me no matter what the score you got to keep pushing. At the end of the day you’re going to get the fruits of your labor,” said Cord, who plans to major in both business administration and computer science.
Cord and Jacoby both played multiple positions for the Cowboys.
Cord posted 100 tackles, five sacks and four fumble recoveries while at linebacker as a senior, but also played most of Gaither’s offensive snaps as a full back.
Jacoby saw time on the offensive and defensive lines, but focused on center in his final high school season.
“Center was where I felt best,” said Jacoby, who will major in athletic training. “That’s what I’m going to play in college, but I’ll do whatever they ask.”
Cord and Jacoby said that willingness to play any position was created by their desire to help the team win.
“Both of them, when I first got here, they told me they’d do whatever it takes,” Stokes said. “They knew they had to be more disciplined and work harder, and they were hungry. They were really receptive to everything the coaches asked them to do and every position they were asked to play.”
Hampton is a Division I program in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC). The Pirates were 3-7 last season.
Charleston is a Division II program in the West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. The Golden Eagles were 9-2 last season.
Mollett rises above injury
Josh Mollett was projected as the Gaither baseball team’s No. 1 pitcher entering his senior season, but disaster struck before he could take the mound this year.
The righty partially tore his ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) in his pitching elbow. The injury did not need Tommy John surgery to correct, but it cost Mollett his entire season.
“I was getting ready to start the first game this year, and I injured it,” Mollett said. “I was in a brace for two months, and after that I started throwing just 45 feet to get back in shape.”
Mollett showed enough in his rehab and during his junior season, when he went 4-0 with a 2.15 ERA and 26 strikeouts in as many innings, to interest Saint Leo University (SLU). He signed with the Lions April 30.
“I’d be even more devastated if this was the way my career ended,” Mollett said. “I hate that I missed my senior year, but at least I get to keep playing.”
Cowboys coach Frank Permuy said they could have used the 6-foot-3, 185-pound Mollett on the mound this season.
“He’s the kind of pitcher who makes a difference on any team,” Permuy said.
Mollett, who will study business, said his four years at Gaither are the reason he gets to play in college.
“I have nothing but thanks for this program,” Mollett said. “If it wasn’t for Gaither baseball I wouldn’t be signing today. I’m very thankful I was a Cowboy.”
SLU is a Division II program in the Sunshine State Conference. The Lions are 32-14-1 this season.
—Follow Kyle LoJacono on Twitter: @Kyle_Laker