With three of the Big Bend’s top football teams squaring off in a spring jamboree Friday night at Cox Stadium, it stood to reason that there wouldn’t be much scoring.
But not even the three head coaches — Madison County’s Mike Coe, Godby’s Ronnie Cottrell and East Gadsden’s Trace Laing — expected a night like this.
In a combined six quarters of hard-hitting football, the three teams scored a grand total of 19 points. Godby defeated Madison 7-0 in their half of action; the Cougars tied East Gadsden 6-6; and Madison and East Gadsden battled to a 0-0 draw.
“All three of these teams have great defenses,” said Cottrell, whose squad needed a late goal-line stand to avoid being upset by East Gadsden in the final half of the night. “Madison was in the (state) championship game last season. We played the championship game (and won). East Gadsden went deep in the playoffs. These are all three very good defensive clubs — very physical teams.”
While it’s true that all three teams are coming off of successful seasons, they also are looking to replace numerous key players.
Coe said Madison returns only about seven starters from last season, and a handful of those players were out with injuries. The Cowboys also are in the midst of installing a new offensive system, incorporating some of the pistol formation that is the hot trend in college football and the NFL.
But even with that, Coe said he was not expecting to get shut out in both halves.
“I won’t be able to sleep tonight,” he said, only half-joking.
But with so many starters gone from last year’s squad, which went 12-3, Coe believes his team will benefit from having played such tough opposition in the spring exhibition.
“When you play great competition, you’re going to do one of two things — you’re gonna take flight or you’re gonna fight,” Coe said. “It’s one or the other.”
While Godby accounted for 13 of the 19 points on the night, it still was a somewhat quiet performance by the normally explosive Cougars.
Godby’s lone touchdown against Madison came on a nice scamper by Anthony “P.J.” Simmons, and the Cougars had to settle for a pair of field goals against East Gadsden. But the second of those field goals meant a great deal to Cottrell and the Cougars’ coaching staff.
After East Gadsden took a 6-3 lead on a 70-yard scoring strike from quarterback Jajuan Perkins to receiver Malik McCallister with less than six minutes remaining, Godby quarterback J.T. Bradwell drove the length of the field with a hurry-up offense.
Bradwell completed a number of quick passes over the middle, including a pair to tight end Jamiel Conegia, before connecting with Simmons on a 30-yarder to the Jaguars’ 9-yard line. Placekicker Logan Robert then drilled a short field goal to tie the game with 3:13 remaining.
“I thought that spoke volumes,” Cottrell said of the Cougars’ final drive.
The Jaguars then responded with a quick-strike attack of their own, with Perkins driving them deep into Godby territory. But after getting stuffed on a third-and-goal from the 2-yard line, East Gadsden was unable to get off a potential winning field goal before time expired.
While he would have loved to have walked away with a win, the Jaguars’ Laing was happy with the improvement he saw between the first and second halves.
“Our offense stepped it up in the second game,” said Laing, in his first season as head coach. “I’m proud of the kids.”