Valdosta Daily Times

Sports

October 1, 2010

Cook anxious for Fitzgerald showdown

ADEL — When Cook made its 2010 schedule, there were several games that the Hornets circled. Colquitt County. Berrien. Americus-Sumter.

But no game means more to the Hornets than tonight’s showdown with the Fitzgerald Purple Hurricanes, a team that has not only dominated the Hornets, but dominated all of Region 1-AA.

It’s early in the region season, but the Hornets (4-0, 0-0) and Purple Hurricanes (4-1, 1-0) will both be looking for a leg up. Kickoff at Memorial Stadium is set for 7:30 p.m.

“Your team always circles games before the season,” Hornets head coach Ken Cofer said. “Of course Colquitt County was one, Americus-Sumter was one and Berrien was one. But the most special for these kids is Fitzgerald. They’re tired of losing to them. They’re tired of finishing fourth (in the region). It’s a big game. This is what high school football is all about.”

Since Fitzgerald joined Cook’s region in 2006, Robby Pruitt’s Purple Hurricanes have won all four matchups, by an average margin of 25.8 points. Last year, Fitzgerald’s veteran group hammered the young Hornets 42-12.

This year, the roles are reversed. Trenton Pruitt and a lot of other great Fitzgerald players have graduated. Meanwhile, the Hornets are a more experienced team, with 21 seniors.

“They’re ready to play,” Cofer said. “It’s good having 21 seniors on this team, because they realize this is their last go-round. Some will never play again. Some will play in college, but it’s still their last high school football season. It’s their last time playing Fitzgerald in the regular season.”

Despite their youth, Cofer is still wary of the Purple Hurricanes. They are 4-1 this season, and have only allowed 19 points in their last three games, after losing in double overtime to Worth County in the second week of the season.

“Coach Pruitt has been in a lot of these games,” Cofer said. “It’s an honor to coach against guys like that. We brag on them all the time about being one of the best-coached teams in the state. When you think about a wing-T team, Fitzgerald is one that comes to mind. Even when they’re young, they’re good.”

Fitzgerald has averaged 35.2 points per game. Cofer said remnants of the wing-T offense that Cook used to run under former head coach Jim Scroggins are still familiar with some of the scout team players, but there is no way to recreate what they will see from Fitzgerald.

So far this season, defense has been Cook’s strength. Anchored by a seasoned defensive line and senior linebacker Shannon Brown, the Hornets are giving up just 9.25 points per game. They shut out Crisp County in their last game two weeks ago.

“I think our defense is looking forward to the challenge,” Cofer said. “Worth County was a predominantly run team, and we took that as a challenge. There are going to be two good defenses out there. We’re going to have to score.”

Cofer was not pleased with his offense’s enthusiasm against Crisp County. The Hornets scored on the second play of the game, and Cofer said the unit thought it would come easy the rest of the night. The Hornets moved the ball in between the 20-yard lines, but it couldn’t punch it in for touchdowns. They won 20-0.

“When you play against the Bufords, Carvers, Fitzgeralds, you have to be rolling on all cylinders,” Cofer said. “I don’t want to have any letdowns. I worry about that more than anything, but I don’t have to worry about that this week.”

The Hornets’ spread offense is led by junior quarterback Zach Folsom, who has several weapons to work with in Trey Register, Clifford Pettiford, Clifford Miles and Brown.

All hands will have to be on deck for the Hornets to stay undefeated.

“We don’t really have to get them up,” Cofer said. “They know what’s on the line.”

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