When Laban DeLay was the defensive coordinator at South Grand Prairie (Texas) High, he and the Warriors were torched by then-sophomore Kofi Boateng in the 2013 season opener.
Even though the Warriors beat Boateng’s Arlington (Texas) Lamar High, the three-star wide receiver had a big game and made an impression on DeLay.
“We had to play a little bit of our star package to make sure that we had someone underneath him or in his face all the time and someone over top of him,” DeLay said.
Fast forward two years and DeLay is now Boateng’s coach at Lamar. He was hired in January and it didn’t take him long to get reacquainted with the star receiver.
DeLay said that Boateng was one of the first players to introduce himself after the hiring. The coach had not seen him play since the 2013 season opener, but DeLay realized Boateng had gotten even better once he saw him in practice.
“I knew that he was going to be pretty special his sophomore year,” DeLay said, “but whenever I got the job, they were out playing 7-on-7 and I identified pretty quickly who he was and that he was going to be special.”
As he got to know Boateng, DeLay realized he had the work ethic to back up his talent.
Unless he was out of town on vacation, Boateng was at every offseason workout, whether it was at 6:30 a.m. or 8 p.m.
“He is definitely a leader in our locker room by his work ethic, but whenever he needs to talk, people listen,” DeLay said. “He knows when he needs to voice his leadership skills, but 90 percent of the time, he does it by his work ethic.”
While he loves his work ethic, DeLay knows that he also has a lot of skill at the receiver position.
Boateng does not have blazing speed, but he runs on Lamar’s sprint relay teams and is one of the track team’s best athletes. His route running is efficient and DeLay said he finds holes in the defense for his quarterback.
However, his hands are his best trait, according to his coach.
“He’s got the best hands of a receiver I’ve ever seen in my 22 years of coaching and I’ve seen some pretty good receivers,” DeLay said. “He has a knack of going up and just getting the ball and snagging it – bad ball, good ball, it doesn’t matter.
“If he gets a finger on it, he’s going to come away with it.”
Boateng missed the Vikings season opener against Richland because of a minor knee injury. DeLay said it was just a “bruise and soreness” injury that he could have played through, but the coach decided to give him an extra week of rest.
Lamar won that game 30-29 and Boateng returned the following week, catching three passes for 102 yards and two touchdowns in the Vikings’ 38-14 win over Keller Central on Friday.
“I know what Kofi can do,” DeLay said. “He broke out Friday night. I knew he was going to come back and be strong as ever. I just wanted to make sure he was okay.”
While DeLay said that it was nice for the team to get a win without Boateng in Week 1, he said he knows his team is a lot better with him on the field.
“His presence alone, just with him out there, our opponent has to identify where he’s at every time,” DeLay said. “If not, he has that capability to make a big play at any moment in the ballgame.”