For many opponents, by the time they got to know him, it was already too late.
Last year, Jameel Coles transferred into Northeast High School from the Phelps School and he became one of the top wrestlers in the Public League. The thing is, nobody knew who he was or anything about him. But shortly after they were looking up at the lights, they knew he was legit.
“It was pretty fun, we were in a tournament and I was wrestling a kid from (Bishop) McDevitt who was really good and everyone thought he was going to kill me,” Coles said. “I punished him for a while, and I ended up winning. He was good, and after that, people would start to talk about me, but it took a while for everyone to know me. I had to beat a lot of people.”
Coles ended up going 39-3 and was a huge part of the Vikings’ run to the Public League championship. But the season didn’t end where he wanted it to because a concussion prevented him from going to states and bringing home a medal.
This year, he’s hoping to settle some unfinished business, but up until now, he’s been a little busy playing his other sport to worry about getting back on the mat.
Coles is a lineman on the Vikings football team, and this fall was a good one for him and his teammates.
They won the Public League 6A championship for the third year in a row and played the defending state champion, St. Joe’s Prep, tough in the District 12 championship.
The loss was a disappointment, but on Thanksgiving, the Vikings were back in business.
Northeast bested Central 43-8 in the annual holiday meeting, marking the third time this year the Vikings bested the Lancers. Northeast also won a regular-season meeting and then again in the Public League 6A final.
Every win is sweet, but beating Central in front of all the fans always seems to be the biggest game of the year.
“Part of me wishes we didn’t play them and we had another shot at them, but we love beating Central,” said Coles, who lives near his high school. “We got them a few times this year. The whole school loves beating them. It’s something everyone wants to do, not just the (football players).”
Coles had a huge hand in the win. Not only did he disrupt Central ball carriers all morning, he had a huge sack that helped keep the Lancers scoreless before Northeast sent the game to a mercy rule. The Vikings scored the first 43 points of the game before Central scored late in the final quarter.
“I got my sack, I missed a few recently, got close against Prep but it wasn’t mine, I kind of helped,” Coles said. “This one felt great. I knew it was my last game, I just wanted to get one. And to do it against Central, that made it better.”
Coles started at offensive tackle all season, too, and because of that, he had to be in top shape coming into the season. That’s where being a wrestler paid off.
“Playing football is hard, but if you can go six minutes on the mat, you have to be in good shape,” Coles said. “Football has helped me a lot in wrestling, but wrestling has helped me in football even more. Just everything about it. I came into football season in great shape.”
Coles doesn’t have much of a break before he gets back to practice. In fact, he doesn’t get any time off.
Wrestling season is quickly approaching, and he was back in the room Monday after enjoying a long weekend.
The good thing for him is he’s weighing about 195 pounds, which means he won’t have a lot of weight to cut. Last year, he wrestled at 220, and he could be there this year, at least in Public League matches depending on what the Vikings need.
There’s an outside chance he could get down to 185, but right now he’s thinking he’s at the perfect weight.
“I won’t have to cut at all,” Coles said. “I’m solid right now. I’ll lose some weight just from getting in there, I’ll cut, but I don’t have to worry about that. And that’s good because I can just focus on wrestling.
“I have unfinished business this year. I don’t want to just get to states this year, I want to get there and see what I can do. I want to come home with a medal. I think I could have done it last year, but this year, I’m looking to win it.”
Coles also has a decision to make.
Because he’s a two-sport star, he has options when it comes to college. He’s leaning one way, but he’s ready to make the most of any opportunity he’s given.
“I think I like football more, but I think I’m better at wrestling,” he said. “I’ll see what happens this year and see what my options are. I definitely want to go to college and I want to play football, but I love wrestling, too, so I’ll be happy doing either. I’ve done them both my whole life, I’ll be happy whatever I do.”