SANTA ROSA BEACH, Fla. (WMBB) — This week’s Scholar Athlete of the Week sponsored by Perry and Young P.A. is South Walton’s Cooper Darke.
Darke has played on the South Walton football team for the last three years. He started at cornerback but started making the move over to offense in his second year. In his senior season, he moved over completely to offense when his coaches realized how much of a playmaker he was.
“We knew he was a good athlete, didn’t know he was going to develop into what he currently is,” South Walton head football coach Phil Tisa said. “He’s a game changer.”
In his final season, he led his team in touchdowns with ten and notched over 600 receiving yards.
“I feel proud of what I’ve been able to do,” Darke said. “I’ve been fortunate enough to do that every Friday night.”
Football isn’t the only sport that Darke excels at.
“A lot of people don’t know that he’s also one of the top-ranked water skiers in the world for his age group,” Tisa said. “On top of being maybe one of the fastest guys in the Panhandle.”
At the age of 14, Darke was number one in the nation for his age group.
“It almost doesn’t really feel like a sport as much because it’s a whole community,” Darke said. “There’s also a competitive side. I think it’s a really it’s a really cool sport.”
Darke has the highest GPA on the South Walton football team with a 4.5 GPA.
“Any time you have an athlete as talented as Cooper who also excels in the classroom,” Tisa said. “That’s got to be something that you hope people pay attention to.”
Darke has options for after high school between football, water skiing, or just school. He has a list of colleges, but one school is number one.
“My dream school is Stanford,” Darke said. “I’ve always been going to football games. I loved watching Christian McCaffrey and Andrew Luck.”
Darke has not decided on a major but is leaning toward business.