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Red and Black’s Cox has ground covered

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Josh Cox has been all over the area sports scene since he entered Watertown High School in the mid-2000s.

And this summer, Cox has been all over the Watertown Red and Black’s defensive backfield after moving from wide receiver to the safety position.

Cox, in his third season with the nation’s oldest semipro football team, is tied for the Empire Football League lead with four interceptions.

He will help lead the Red and Black (4-2 overall, 3-2 league) tonight when it plays the first-place NEPA Miners in a 7 p.m. game in Scranton, Pa.

“I kind of told myself, at receiver you can only control so much and just being competitive, you always want the ball, but obviously we got a good run game so I thought I’d switch over to the defense,” Cox said. “That’s a position where if you want the ball, you can go get it.”

Cox graduated from Watertown High in 2008. He excelled in football, wrestling and baseball for the Cyclones, making the Times All-North baseball team and qualifying for the state wrestling tournament at 215 pounds in his senior year.

He then played two years of baseball at Jefferson Community College, where he also played for the Watertown Wizards during the summer, before moving onto St. John Fisher.

Cox was selected to the Empire 8 all-conference team as a pitcher, striking out 52 batters in 42 innings in his first year at Fisher.

“I always wanted to go (to college) for football but I was excelling better in baseball so that’s when I decided to play college baseball,” Cox said. “I look back now, and I don’t regret playing baseball, but I wish I would have tried playing college football at the time to see how it would have went.”

Cox’s college baseball career was cut short after just one year at Fisher due to elbow tendonitis.

That’s when he moved on to the Red and Black.

“I was like, well I got to do something else,” Cox said. “So I walked over to the Red and Black. I knew a lot of the guys that played and they had been trying to get me out to play for a while so I said I’ll give it a try and I kind of fell for it, I guess.”

Cox, who played fullback and linebacker in high school, started at receiver for his first two years with the Red and Black. But he said entering this season, he believed he could be more useful at another position.

“I thought, ‘What’s best for the team, what do we need? Do we need a (defensive) end, do we need a linebacker?’ And we were set all around so I said, what about safety? It’s kind of a receiver mentality but a little bit different so I thought I’d give it a try.”

Red and Black coach George Ashcraft said that the position switch has paid off in a big way.

“He is a true leader back there,” Ashcraft said. “He reads the (opposing) offenses so well and runs this defense better than anyone has. He’s perfect for the job.”

Cox said that he contemplated sitting out the season due to his busy schedule with coaching and his job at Victory Promotions, along with nagging injuries. But he said a new workout regimen with Impact Nutrition led him to re-consider.

He also said that meeting some of the new players eliminated any doubts about the team’s tumultuous offseason.

“(This season) is definitely something I didn’t expect, obviously there was a bunch of whatever in the offseason,” Cox said. “But I just feel like now the Red and Black is something different. There’s a lot of new faces, a lot of new guys, and I feel like they’re putting a positive name out there.”

Cox, who plans to marry his fiancée Jana next summer, has stayed active locally while excelling for the Red and Black. He is an assistant coach for the JCC women’s basketball team and has also assisted the Cannoneers’ baseball team.

He coaches Little League and grasshopper baseball teams in Rodman, plays rough-touch indoor football in the winter and is a regular in pickup basketball games on various courts in the area.

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