COCOA – Before starting on their quest for a fourth state championship trophy, the Cocoa High football team made sure to retain another important trophy as they defeated the Rockledge Raiders for the ninth consecutive time, 47-0 in the annual Barbecue Bowl.
“Besides our three state championship trophies, that’s the most important trophy in our trophy case to me,” Cocoa head coach John Wilkinson said. “We take this rivalry game very, very seriously.”
Early on, Cocoa’s offense struggled as it was unable to convert a fourth-and-3 on the Rockledge 31-yard line on its opening drive.
But the Tigers’ next drive was set up nicely at the Raiders’ 13-yard line, thanks to a blocked punt by Chauncey Gardner. One play later, the Tigers took the lead on a touchdown run by Justin Weaver and never looked back.
Cocoa’s next drive began at its own 33-yard line and again took just one play to find the end zone. Bruce Judson found Jamel Dean on a long pass down the middle of the field as Dean got past the defense and raced in for the touchdown.
The Tigers’ special teams unit then got in on the scoring as Asante Griffin seemingly grabbed the ball right off the foot of punter Justin Johnson and took it in for six as Cocoa took a 20-0 lead following a missed extra point. Griffin later scored at the end of the half on a rushing touchdown.
It was another dominating night for Cocoa’s defense as the Tigers held Rockledge to just 56 yards, including minus-25 rushing yards.
It was the fourth shutout for Cocoa in their last six games and they have allowed just 10 points total in that span.
KEY PLAYERS: Cocoa running back Justin Weaver ran for 134 yards and two touchdowns, including a 50-yard run on the second play from scrimmage in the second half.
Tigers quarterback Bruce Judson threw for 132 yards and two touchdowns and also ran for another score in the fourth quarter.
THEY SAID IT: “They stack up well with some of the teams we’ve had in the past,” Wilkinson said of his 2014 team in comparison to his previous teams at Cocoa High.
“I think our defense is playing really, really well. Offensively, we can run and throw; we’re pretty balanced. I think if we tie up some things on special teams and cut down on the penalties, we’ve got a chance to make a run.”
WHAT’S NEXT: Cocoa will begin its quest for a state title next week at home, as it opens up the Class 4A playoffs with a regional semifinal game against the Avon Park Red Devils.
For Rockledge, it marks the Raiders’ second consecutive losing season as they haven’t made the playoffs since 2012.
RECORDS: Cocoa 9-1, Rockledge 2-8.