Former LB star shines in Michigan

By David Witte / sports@losbanosenterprise.comOctober 20, 2012 

Former Los Banos High and Modesto Junior College running back Casey Cotta has been collecting dust for a while.

After doing his time on the scout team at NCAA Division-II Northern Michigan University in 2010, Cotta was ready to go. But he tore an ACL before the 2011 season, and spent all last year rehabbing from surgery.

Again ready to go, he tore his hamstring before this season and found himself hobbled on the sideline once again.

But last Friday in Marquette, Mich., the 5-foot-9, 215-pound junior got his chance against Division-II No. 14 Grand Valley State and responded with 16 carries for 130 yards and a pair of touchdowns in a 38-10 upset.

"He was cleared and ready to play a week or two ago. Then, because we had some injuries at running back, he was forced into the starting spot," NMU coach Chris Ostrowsky said. "He ran the ball well, he was physical -- he was a star. He had a great game."

Cotta's first carry of the game -- his first carry ever for the Wildcats in his third season on the roster -- went for an 11-yard touchdown. He added a 30-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter. Quarterback Cody Scepaniak also hit the century mark on the ground, running 20 times for 128 yards and two TDs.

NMU's issues at running back will leave Cotta in the starting position for the final four games, according to Ostrowsky. Cotta's mere presence after his hardships has left the first-year coach impressed.

"Tremendous character. Most kids would have quit," Ostrowsky said. "He's a hard worker, and everyone loves him. He was at every meeting, every practice -- he's just a pleasure. That's just a kid who is always doing the right thing."

Cotta ran for 1,410 yards his senior season at Los Banos, then compiled 762 yards and a dozen touchdowns in two seasons at Modesto JC.

Enterprise reporter David Witte can be reached by phone at 388-6565 or by e-mail at sports@losbanosenterprise.com

Enterprise reporter David Witte can be reached by phone at 388-6565 or by e-mail at sports@losbanosenterprise.com

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