DeKALB – Cole Tucker had to make a transition this season.
After being a major playmaker during the DeKalb football team’s march to the Class 6A quarterfinals, the junior switched over to be the main facilitator for the Barbs’ 25-win basketball team.
The talented and unselfish Tucker performed both to help each program to successful seasons and for that is the Daily Chronicle 2015-16 Male Athlete of the Year.
“It’s a little more exciting being the playmaker,” Tucker laughs. “In football, me and (quarterback) Derek (Kyler) were kind of the leaders of the team, and in basketball, I’d take a step back and let Luke (Davis) and Mike (Pollack) lead. You have to do what’s best for the team and me getting the ball to Luke and Mike helped us win a lot, instead of me going to the bucket a lot. I just felt it wasn’t that hard to move from playmaker to facilitator.”
After missing nearly all of his sophomore football season with a broken collarbone, Tucker burst onto the scene as a dynamic wide receiver for the Barbs, who finished 9-3 before falling to 49-21 to eventual state champion Montini Catholic. During the season, Tucker finished with 55 catches for 1,037 yards and 16 touchdowns – including a pair of kick returns for scores.
“As a sophomore, before his injury, I saw a lot of upside that I knew he could be ready to live up to that level of expectations,” said DeKalb football coach Matt Weckler, who added he knew Tucker would have a special season after the Week 1 loss to Planfield North, in which the junior had seven catches for 127 yards and two touchdowns.
The magnum opus of the season for Tucker, who was the Daily Chronicle Offensive Football Player of the Year, came in the thrilling 31-28 victory over rival Sycamore. He had eight catches for 136 yards and three touchdowns, and added an 87-yard kickoff return for a score.
“That was probably the greatest game I’ve ever played and probably the most exciting game I’ve ever been a part of,” Tucker said of the game in which DeKalb freshman kicker Connor Tierney made the game-winning field goal with four seconds left.
But after the Barbs’ season-ending loss to Montini came the adjustment.
After having just one day off, he was back on the basketball court – admitting that it was difficult to revamp his mind to hoops after recently having the talented football team knocked out of the playoffs.
However, in his first game of the year for the DeKalb basketball team, Tucker had a season-high 16 points to go with four steals and six assists in a 83-62 win over Foreman.
“There was not a lot of dropoff with him,” Barbs basketball coach Al Biancalana said. “He came into the basketball season ready to contribute at a high level.”
For the basketball team, which went 25-5, Tucker averaged nearly eight points and led the team in assists (1.6 per game) and minutes played, springboarding himself onto the Daily Chronicle Boys Basketball All-Region Team.
Both Weckler and Biancalana admit that there will be changes for Tucker as he approaches his senior seasons.
In football, the double teams – which started to come against Sycamore and Kaneland in the middle of the season – are likely there to stay next season and adjustments will be made. In basketball, with the graduation of Davis and Pollack, Biancalana said that Tucker will likely lead the Barbs offense as a senior point guard.
Tucker, who has committed to play for the Northern Illinois football team, knows the next football game he plays, he’ll be getting some well-deserved attention from the opposing defense.
“It feels good at first and then you realize you’re not going to get the ball probably,” Tucker said of the double teams. “It’s a little frustrating. The way I look at it, if they’re doubling me, they’re leaving one of our other playmakers all alone. If they’re keying on me, somebody else will make a play.”