Updated Wednesday, November 21, 2012 at 10:01 PM
Difficult circumstances led Cedric Cooper to Skyline High School for his senior year. But he's made an easy transition, helping the top-ranked Spartans return to the Class 4A state football semifinals.
Skyline (12-0), which has won three of the past four championships, plays No. 3 Camas (12-0) at 1 p.m. Saturday at the Tacoma Dome.
It's been an unexpected ride for Cooper, a running back and cornerback who played at 2A Foster High School in Tukwila the past two years. He had mixed emotions last summer when family issues forced him and his mom to move in with a friend in Sammamish.
"I wanted to stay at Foster because I had my friends there, but I'm open to a lot of new things," said Cooper, who has moved a lot and played freshman football in South Carolina.
He's enjoying Skyline's success. Foster was 10-10 in his two seasons.
"The winning, man, it's crazy," Cooper said. "I'm just not used to it."
Cooper averaged more than 100 yards rushing per game at Foster last year before a late-season knee injury. He knew the competition would be much greater at Skyline.
"I was a little nervous, but I'm a football player, so I was just excited for the opportunity to just get out there and prove myself," he said.
It didn't take long. Cooper (5 feet 10, 165 pounds) went to the Spartans' team camp in July and made a quick impression.
"We threw a screen pass to him and he made some pretty ridiculous moves, and we're like, 'Holy smokes!' " Skyline coach Mat Taylor said.
"He's a very smart kid," Skyline quarterback Max Browne said. "He picked up our offense real fast. We've been able to run the ball this year, and he's been huge for us. He's a special player."
Cooper missed Skyline's opening game while working out a glitch with his transcript. He's been a fixture in the lineup since, earning first-team All-KingCo honors on defense and second-team honors on offense.
Cooper has a team-leading 775 rushing yards, plus 23 receptions for 369 yards. He put on a clinic in a quarterfinal victory against Roosevelt with 195 rushing yards and four touchdowns.
"He's got vision and has ability to make cutbacks and balance like nobody I've ever coached," Taylor said. "He's very, very special in that regard. ... He's as good as anyone we've ever had."
Cooper said a state title would be more than special.
"That would be world-changing right there," he said.
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Cedric Cooper ran for 195 yards in the quarterfinals.