MACHESNEY PARK (WREX) — The Chicago Bears chose Harlem quarterback James Cooper Jr. as their High School All-Star for week 2, when Cooper accounted for 6 touchdowns in a Harlem win over Freeport. A Bears representative visited Harlem to deliver a personalized football to Cooper and also to make a donation to a youth football program of his choosing.
"Actually I wasn't expecting it, I guess," Cooper said. "To find out I got it means a lot, especially with the cool football I received. With it being hand-painted and a real NFL ball, it means a lot."
The Bears choose one player from the state every week of the high school season for this honor, and Cooper's performance really caught their eye.
"His numbers are unreal," said Gustavo Silva, the Bears' manager of youth football and community programs. "In week 3, he had just as big a week as he did in week 2, the week that he won. I was joking with him if you didn't win in week 2, you probably would have won in week 3. He's a humble, hard-working young man. He's got a great family. He's got a great support system."
The Bears will make a $500 donation to Harlem Middle School, the youth program Cooper chose.
"I chose Harlem Middle School because they did a lot for me in developing me and who I am," Cooper explains. "A lot of teachers from that school changed my life. They were really good influences on me and made sure I did the right things and made the right decisions, everything along those lines."
The award also encapsulates a player's character, something that made Cooper an easy choice after looking at the strong numbers to go with it.
"James does a great job outside of football," Harlem head coach Bob Moynihan said. "He's always helping other people. He'll pick up his teammates for practice and things of that nature. He's a good kid who has a good heart."
The NIC-10 has known for years and now the Chicago Bears are recognizing what James Cooper means to the Huskies, as he gets a big honor in his shortened senior season. Now he has his sights set on a NIC-10 title.