LONGMONT — Cooper Rothe has taken his love affair with turtles to an extreme.
It goes well beyond his affinity for Leonardo, Michelangelo, Raphael and Donatello — a.k.a the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. He was given his pet turtle 12 years ago and he and Squirt have been inseparable since.
His twitter handle: @scappyturtle7. It came from the combination of his "scrappy" style on the field, court or diamond and his love of the shelled reptiles ... that and he was simply looking for an Xbox name.
"I kind of have to live up to it now and I just have to play that way," said the Longmont senior, who will continue his football career next season in Laramie at the University of Wyoming.
Rothe is one of the best all-around athletes to ever roam the halls at Longmont and as his season winds down on the football field, he and his best friend Conlan Berger would love nothing more than to add one more title to their already impressive list of accomplishments.
Rothe's athletic prowess was evident at an early age. He grew up playing youth soccer for Luis Chavez — the head coach at Skyline — and he still loves the sport but there was clearly another calling.
"As soon as he was able to put on those pads," Cooper's mom Marci Rothe said, "there was no going back."
Rothe's soccer background paid dividends. He has been showing off his strong kicking leg since middle school and will continue to do so in college, where the Cowboys want him as a kicker.
"I used to think it was the biggest accomplishment to make and extra point in middle school and it has just transferred over," said Cooper Rothe, who has seen 60 of his 77 kickoffs reach the end zone.
But as good of kicker as he is, Rothe, who takes a nap before every game, may be an even better defensive back. Over the last two seasons, the Scrappy Turtle has picked off 17 passes and it is rare when the opposing team even thinks about throwing in his direction.
"Cooper is the best corner in the state. Cooper is the best kicker in the state and he should be a first team All-Colorado corner and a first team All-Colorado kicker," said Longmont coach Doug Johnson, whose team will be at All City Stadium on Saturday to face Denver South in the state quarterfinals.
"He's the whole package. He's got the 'it' factor and he just makes plays naturally, but he has also studies the game and he's a student of the game. He knows situations and tendencies. He's very coachable and he is tremendously athletic, so you put that whole package together and you've got an All-Colorado corner."
Rothe, whose brother Brody was also a three-sport standout at Longmont, also credits his on field success to his teammates, including his partner-in-crime, Berger, and the talented senior class that has been years in the making at Longmont. Together they won titles as pee-wee's and then again at the next level and all the way up to middle school.
"And every year I would tell him, savor this because it is never going to happen again," Marci Rothe said.
Said Berger, who scored six touchdowns in the Trojans' first playoff game against Pueblo South and lives two houses down from Rothe: "We've played soccer together, basketball, football and you name it we've been together. I love watching him, he's a great player. He's my best friend and it is amazing to watch him be so successful and it's fun to know I've got a friend like him."
At Wyoming, Rothe will continue to kick and if his YouTube videos that are featured on cooperrothe2016.com are any indication, he will do so very well. There you can see him hitting 65-yard field goals with relative ease.
Sure he would like to have a go at defensive back, but as Johnson who legitimately thinks Rothe could play corner at the next level, says so bluntly: "I think when you get a $120,000 or $150,00 scholarship you say yes sir and you go do it."
Rothe hasn't ruled it out either.
"I definitely have a chance but it is all up to them and I'll do whatever they ask me and whatever to help out the program," he said.
Just like he has done at Longmont.