ADEL -- It wasn't hard to figure out what Cook High School had to do to turnaround an 0-2 start. Week 1, the Hornets botched three punts, contributing to 21 Cairo points, and lost 24-7. The following week, three fumbles doomed the Hornets to a 35-23 loss against Worth County. But since then, everything has come easy for Cook.
"The way we went 0-2 was us making mistakes with things we really hadn't worked on a lot - the kicking game and trying to move people around to new positions," Cook coach George Dean said. "We were just using those games trying to get better. We felt that the things we were messing up on were things we could correct. It wasn't a lack of effort or a lack of ability."
The evidence of that has been the Hornets' past six games. Since going 0-2, Cook has won six straight in impressive fashion. Outscoring the opposition 192-54 during that span, the Hornets' average margin of victory has been 23 points.
"I knew we would probably start off slow," senior Andrel Lane said. "But, I knew as we went on in the season we'd get stronger."
Lane's intuition proved to be correct. While he and fellow seniors
Tony Carnegia, Anthony Morris and Cedric Mason formed an experienced backfield, the Hornets were running behind a youthful offensive front. Even worse, sophomore quarterback Ty Goff was a first-time starter, necessitating an adjustment period.
It's safe to say the growing pains are over.
"At first, I was throwing a lot of stupid passes," Goff said. "Now, I won't throw it, I'll run and not try to force things and make too much happen."
The left-hander flashed his dynamic running skills two weeks ago on a 26-yard bootleg for a touchdown against Berrien County. Combined with a developing passing attack, Goff could open up new avenues of offense for the Hornets.
"You really don't want to put a young quarterback in that situation, but down the road he's really going to be good for us," Dean said. "He has a lot more ability than people give him credit for - a great leader and a really good runner.
"We haven't used him much as a running back but he really is an excellent runner, very fast and very elusive."
The team's reversal of fortune hasn't gone unnoticed. The Hornets are banging down the door of the Associated Press AA poll, finishing one point shy of 10th place.
A seventh straight victory should guarantee Cook a spot. The Hornets play No. 8 Thomasville on Friday, with the winner claiming the Region 1-AA championship.
"It would really help boost our confidence," Lane said. "It's high right now, but it would really help us go into the playoffs strong."
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