Home / Travel / Alumni Report: Ex-passer has caught on at receiver – The San Diego Union

Alumni Report: Ex-passer has caught on at receiver – The San Diego Union

In 2012, Madison High football coach Rick Jackson entrusted his team to a skinny, sophomore, left-handed quarterback.

The gamble paid off as Kareem Coles led the Warhawks to a 14-1 record, a San Diego Section Division IV championship, a win over Monrovia in the Southern California Division III championship game and a state title-game win over Marin Catholic.

“Coach Jackson is my guy,” Coles said. “He asked a 15-year-old kid to lead his team. I’ll never forget the trust he showed in me.”

In three years as Madison’s starting quarterback, Coles led the team to a 32-7 record.

He threw for 5,242 yards with 61 TDs and just nine interceptions. He ran for 2,338 yards and 25 scores.

And he so wanted to play quarterback in college.

Coles had a number of college offers, but most schools wanted him as a receiver or cornerback. He committed to Utah State, but changed his mind when Idaho offered him a chance to play quarterback. He played in six games for the Vandals, threw one pass against Auburn, and decided to leave.

“I couldn’t see myself spending the next four or five years there,” he said.

Looking for a school, he landed as a receiver at Duquesne, an NCAA Division I FCS program in Pittsburgh.

“My family is from the Pittsburgh area,” Coles said. “My hometown (Crafton) is about 15-20 miles from Duquesne. So I knew the area, knew about the weather, knew I had family around to spend the holidays.”

Things have worked out well.

Now a senior, he has played in 34 games for the Dukes and has 66 career catches for 694 yards and five TDs, two of which came against West Virginia.

“There is a world of difference between Pittsburgh and San Diego — no beaches, no Mexican food,” said Coles, who listed Tacos El Gordo on Palm and Lolita’s as his favorite San Diego taco spots.

“The football here, though, isn’t much different. It’s really very good. There are a lot of guys dropping down from big-time programs. And we’ve won two of the last three conference titles, so we’ve done pretty well.”

Duquesne is 4-2 this season, 2-0 in the Northwestern Conference with games left against Wagner, St. Francis, Robert Morris, Bryant and Central Connecticut.

“I’ve really come to love playing receiver,” said Coles, now 6-feet-1, 190 pounds. “I love the one-on-one matchups.

“I love the physical part of the game, trying to get open.

“As a quarterback, I had to read all the coverages, know what every DB or linebacker was doing. As a receiver, I need to know what my man is doing.”

Two weeks ago against Long Island University, Coles got to throw a pass, connecting on a two-point PAT try.

“It felt good to play quarterback for a play,” Coles said. “I showed the guys some of my high school skills.”

Coles most definitely wants to take his skills to the pro level, whether that’s the NFL the new XFL or the Canadian League.

“I can’t see being done with football,” said Coles, who will graduate in December with a degree in sports marketing. “I’m still young. I want to play as long as a I can, then get involved in coaching.

“I’m in a good state of mind, and I wouldn’t trade my collegiate experience.”

More football

Thomas Bennett (La Costa Canyon) is averaging 42.9 yards on 40 punts for Tulsa. He has a long of 60 yards with nine punts of 50 or more yards, 10 balls downed inside the 20, eight fair catches and only five touchbacks.

– Chris Haas (Coronado) is the leading rusher for 5-2 Carnegie Mellon with 102 carries for 415 yards and a pair of TDs. He also has nine receptions for 60 yards. Sophomore Jimmy Nguyen (Serra) is starting at right tackle for the NCAA Division III Tartans.

– Isaiah Strayhorn (Eastlake/Southwestern College) has 46 carries for 161 yards and two TDs for Northwest Missouri State.

Women’s volleyball

Savannah Rennie (Torrey Pines) is back to playing full time at Cal after undergoing a liver transplant in 2016. The Golden Bears are 17-1 and ranked No. 15 in the nation and Rennie has 95 kills.

– Megan Collantes (Grossmont) is off to a great start as a freshman at Saint Mary’s College in Indiana. She’s second on the team with 223 kills for a team that is 9-12. She had 20 kills against Hanover and has had 14 double-figure kills matches. She also has 305 digs with a season-high 26 against Illinois Tech.

– NYU sophomore middle blocker Abby Ausmus (La Jolla Country Day) is second on the team with 145 kills and has 86 blocks for the 20-6 Violets.

– Senior Sien Gallop (Francis Parker) has 229 kills and 242 digs after 20 matches, ranking second in both categories at Saint Louis University.

Women’s soccer

Freshman Alexi Vontsolos (Scripps Ranch) has started all 13 games and has played 1,004 minutes as a defender at 8-4-1 Chico State. Sophomore midfielder Paige Slusarek (Cathedral Catholic) has played in 12 matches.

– Amanda Roy (Rancho Bernardo), a senior defender, has started all 15 games and has two assists for 3-11-1 UC Riverside. The Highlanders beat UC Davis 2-0 Saturday on Senior Day.

Also

Haley Giavara (Serra), a freshman at Cal, registered a 3-6, 6-3, 6-1 win over the nation’s No. 5-ranked player — Duke’s Kelly Chen — in her second collegiate tennis tournament.

– Marisa Butzirus (Coronado) finished third in the 100-yard backstroke in her first collegiate swim meet for Saint Michael’s College, an NCAA Division III school in Vermont.

– Trevor Norby (San Marcos), a senior at Oklahoma Christian, finished first among 100 golfers at the Jerry Hrnciar Invitational in Duncan, Okla. It was Norby’s third career collegiate win.

The Alumni Report appears periodically during the college season. Readers are encouraged to submit information on former San Diego County prep athletes to john.maffei@sduniontribune.com.