TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- The Madison County High Cowboys of 2001 may have lost the most regular season football games out of any Cowboy squad in the last six years, but they certainly won the game that counted the most.

Madison County finished the regular season with a 7-2 mark with losses to Mosley and Valdosta, who will play in the AAAAA semifinals Friday.

But those two losses paid dividends as the Cowboys took the school's first football championship Friday, beating Clewiston, 21-14.

"All the hard work we did just paid off. The two losses to Mosley High and Valdosta made the team come together very strong," running back Marquis Powell, who scored the game-winning touchdown said. "I think that was a big spring for us to come get better."

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Sweet win for head coach and assistants: The state championship win was especially gratifying for not only the Cowboy players and fans, but also the coaching staff.

Cowboys' head coach Randy McPherson began his coaching tenure in Madison as an assistant in 1986. Since taking the reins of the program in 1996, McPherson has compiled a 67-9 mark.

Assistant coaches such as offensive line coach Steve Lankford and defensive coordinator Bruce Thames have been in Madison almost for almost as long if not longer.

"I think this is my 16th or 17th year. It's sweet. Through two coaches I've watched it come from two coaches and 'they couldn't win' to this," Lankford said. "It's sweet... I think that the kids just wanted it more than they (Clewiston) did."

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Ware honored: Madison County senior running back Rasharn Ware was honored prior to Friday's game as he was presented Junior Orange Bowl Committee Scholar-Athlete Award.

Ware, who had a 3.71 GPA entering fall semester plans to either attend FAMU, Florida or Florida State and study Computer Engineering.

McPherson finished second in voting for 2A coach of the year with Clewiston coach Al Morrell claiming the honor. Friday's game was the last for Morrell, who will retire after this year.

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Senior duo has better finals experience: The feeling was a whole lot better this time for Madison's Shawn Davis. Davis, who plays quarterback and also sees time in the defensive secondary was on the 1998 state runner-up along with Mikhal Kornegay. It was sweet redemption for both. Kornegay had an interception while scored on a 12-yard run in the second quarter for MCHS.

"This is unbelievable. It's almost like a dream come true," Davis said. "There really aren't any words to express how I feel."

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The Mighty Trifecta: The Cowboys win completed a sweep in the state championship finals for the Big Bend.

Tallahassee North Florida Christian and Tallahassee Lincoln won their respective 1A and 4A crowns Thursday to give all three teams for the Big Bend championships.

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Great D: Throughout the year, two key points of pride for the Cowboy defense were turnovers and shutouts. While the Cowboys didn't post a shutout, they did force Clewiston quarterback Thomas Barnes into three costly interceptions all at crucial times.

The first by Kornegay set up a second-quarter score for the Cowboys with the second being picked off by Brian Hampton in the end zone.

The third came courtesy of Ranardrick Phillips early in the fourth just as Clewiston cross the Cowboy 45.

"Personally I think we've got the best defense in the state, probably in the nation," Kornegay said.



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