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Football athlete of the year (3A and under): Cody Nichols, Florence
For a high school kid, Cody Nichols has a philosophy well beyond his years.
“I don’t dislike anyone,” said Nichols, the Ferris Buehler of Florence. “I try to get along with all the kids (in school).”
On and off the field, his football coach noticed Nichols’ proficiency in making friends.
“He’s quiet and gets along with every group in school,” Florence coach Mark Buderus said.
He just doesn’t hang out with the jocks. A lot of kids in school like him. He’s a popular kid.”
The Florence senior quarterbacked the Huskies to a 13-1 record and a 2A state championship, accounting for 2,500 yards and 29 touchdowns.
But Nichols was less interested in the individual accolades and more interested in getting the team involved.
“I just like to show and help everyone,” Nichols said.
That quiet confidence was something Buderus knew he could depend on from the two-year starter.
“We thought he’d be our guy (when he was a freshman),” Buderus said. “We had a three-year starter there or he would’ve started three years.”
Nichols bided his time and learned the position. He proved a threat on the ground and through the air, and liked to do whatever the team needed.
“I like to run, but if my passing game is going good, I like to pass and get everyone else going,” Nichols said.
And if he handed off and saw tailback Johnnie Krien break off a long run, Nichols was trying to race him to the end zone.
“When Johnnie’s running it, I’m always trying to chase him down,” Nichols said. “I’ve tried to get in front of him to block for him.”
It also gave Nichols a chance to be among the first to congratulate Krien. Supporting his teammates was a big part of Nichols’ game. Whether they made a good play or bad play, Nichols told them to keep their heads up.
“I think that helps a lot of people too,” Nichols said. “They don’t like it if someone’s mean to them and telling them what to do or how to do it.”
That philosophy comes from when he was a sophomore on varsity. The seniors were more into themselves than the team, Nichols said. So he and his classmates decided to change that and welcome everyone on the team, regardless of age and class.
“Some of those people are judged by who they hang out with,” Nichols said. “Once you get to know those people, they’re totally different. I like to get to know people like that. I’ve known a lot of these kids since I was little. As you get older you spread apart. Even though you’re in high school and hang out with different people doesn’t mean we can’t be friends.