Cole Payton Wins Gatorade Player of the Year


North Dakota State University commit Cole Payton makes history as he leaves Westside. Payton, who is a multi-sport athlete, is the first Westside football player to win the Gatorade Player of the Year award. Even though Payton knows his talent he was surprised with the decision to make him the player of the year. 

“I was a little bit surprised, yeah,” Payton said. “It’s such a big award and I am just really thankful to be recognized. But it does go to show that my hard work has paid off.” 

Payton has had an amazing four years with the Warriors, setting multiple records such as having 5,338 passing yards and 65 total touchdowns in his career. He also recently led Westside to a football state championship this past year and is now adding to his great achievement list by winning this award. Payton wants to continue to inspire others and encourage younger players to keep the list going of Westside football players to win this award. 

“I am really honored,” he said. “Hopefully that helps start a new tradition where younger Junior Warriors and freshman football players can look up to that and want to increase the list of Westside football players who have gotten the award.” 

Payton’s teammates, family, and head coaches see all of what he brings to the table on and off the field, including head football coach Brett Froendt who has coached Payton all years of his high school career. He’s seen how much Payton has grown and how much leadership he can bring to NDSU in the fall. 

 “He’s a freak athlete but he built himself into one,” Froendt said. “His ability to make everyone around him better makes him a tremendous leader.  Teammates and coaches trust him to model work ethic, consistency, and leadership every day.  Cole is first to show and last to leave in any lifting session, positional meeting, practice, etc.  He not only went to QB meetings but to lineman meetings, secondary meetings, receiver meetings, etc.  No one does that, except Cole.”

Payton will continue his football career in the fall at North Dakota State University. He spoke on his goals for what he wants to accomplish going into this year, as he expressed that he hopes to just soak up as much information as he can at the quarterback factory in Fargo.

  “My main goal is just to learn as much as possible,” Payton said. “Learn how to be a bison and work my butt off and get good grades and stay on top of everything and soak up everything like a sponge.” 

With Payton leaving Westside and going forward in his football career coach Froendt is confident that he will fit right in with the team’s environment. 

“They know what kind of athlete Cole is, but they don’t know the level of human being he is,” Froendt said. “He will make everyone in the program better as athletes and human beings.  He will not only fit into their championship culture as a talented player but one that will strengthen the already great culture they have established.”

Payton will continue to work hard as he goes into his season at NDSU. Also, catch Payton competing at the Shrine Bowl in June. Although Payton is now moving to the next level, Payton’s legacy as a Warrior looks to last forever.