TONTOGANY - Dan Cocke had his share of talented football players in a quarter-century as Otsego High's head football coach.
None before Arron Agler had the combination of skill and size - 6-foot-4 and 225 pounds - that led to a Division I college scholarship.
Mr. Agler, 29, died Friday, his body dumped in the parking lot of Akron General Medical Hospital. He was shot, police believe, as he and another man robbed a drive-through store.
"I've been talking about this with some of my former players," Mr. Cocke said. "And the question is, 'How could this happen to a kid like Arron?'
"He was a very good kid, and someone the other kids looked up to," Mr. Cocke said. "You never dreamed something like this could ever happen to a kid like Arron."
Mr. Agler was the star quarterback of the Otsego football team in 1997 and '98. He received a football scholarship from Michigan State University and later transferred to Kent State University.
Barberton, Ohio, police say Mr. Agler, most recently of Stow, Ohio, robbed the 619 Brew Thru Beverage store Thursday.
About 9:30 p.m., a man robbed the store clerk and fled with an undisclosed amount of money, assisted by a man driving a red Nissan. During the robbery, the store owner fired shots at the robber, police said.
Dennis Williams of Tallmadge, Ohio, who police said drove the getaway car, was arrested about 7 a.m. Sunday while walking to a homeless shelter in Akron. Williams has felony drug convictions, Barberton police Chief Michael Kallai said.
Williams was being held in the Summit County jail on a robbery charge in lieu of $50,000 bond pending arraignment today.
Mr. Agler's cause of death is a single gunshot wound to the chest, said Gary Guenther, an investigator for the Summit County Medical Examiner's Office.
"I'm dumbfounded," said Dave Whitmire, a former Otsego head baseball coach. "I would have never thought in a million years he would have gotten involved in stuff like that. I was in a state of disbelief and shock when I heard about it."
Mr. Whitmire, who now teaches and coaches varsity baseball at Springfield High School, fondly recalled the Arron Agler who helped Otsego win its last Suburban Lakes League baseball title as a junior all-league pitcher/third baseman in 1997.
"Arron was one of those kids who was a pleasure to coach - in fact, one of the most coachable kids I've ever come in contact with, and one of the most polite individuals I've ever met," Mr. Whitmire said. "I remember saying, when I was at Otsego, that coaching would be pretty easy if you had 10 Arron Aglers. He was a good football player but, in my opinion, he could have written his ticket in baseball too."
Mr. Cocke lamented not being in a position to help Mr. Agler avoid trouble. "You wish you had more opportunities to reach out to him," said Mr. Cocke, Otsego's head football coach from 1980-2005. "There's always hindsight in that respect. I know the family made every attempt to help Arron. I hadn't talked to Arron in a couple years. When he left Michigan State, I helped him get into the Kent State program, and I had very little contact with him after that. We just hadn't really crossed paths."
Mr. Agler was indicted April 2, 2008, by a Wood County grand jury and charged with receiving stolen property, a felony. A trial date in Wood County Common Pleas Court scheduled for June 4, 2009, was vacated because the matter was to be refiled in Bowling Green Municipal Court.
He was charged with unauthorized use of a vehicle, a misdemeanor, but didn't appear at a July 1 hearing in municipal court. An arrest warrant was issued July 6.
"I'd have never guessed that this is where Arron Agler's life would end," said Jim Bostdorff, Otsego's current head basketball coach, who was an assistant in the program when Mr. Agler played for the Knights. "It's terrible. We're not supposed to lose kids that we've coached, and it does hurt. They become a part of your family. It's tough.
"Arron had a lot of things going for him in high school. He was a big, strong kid, and a good, three-sport athlete. He was as nice a kid as you're ever going to meet," Mr. Bostdoff said. "You don't know what happened, I guess. Somewhere along the line, things went astray."
Contact Steve Junga at:
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Dan Cocke had his share of talented football players in a quarter-century as Otsego High's head football coach. None before Arron Agler had the combination of skill and size - 6-foot-4 and 225 pounds - that led to a Division I college scholarship. Mr. Agler, 29, died Friday, his body dumped in the parking lot of Akron General Medical Hospital. He was shot, police believe, as he and another man robbed a drive-through store.