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Cowboys Gameday: A fresh new season

Rick Patrick: Greene Publishing, Inc.

The state championship trophies from last season are well enshrined in the trophy case at Madison County High School (MCHS). The accolades from last year, although well deserved, are in the past. The championship rings are now adorning the fingers of last season's players and coaches. That was last season; this is a new season. This team of young Cowboys is ready to make their own history in 2018. The opportunity for another history-making season is ahead. No Cowboy team has ever won back-to-back state titles. If this Cowboy team is going to make history this season, they will need to take some lessons from the past. Just as last season, this season's success will be determined one game at a time; starting tonight at Boot Hill Stadium.

The first stop on the Cowboys' trail to Orlando begins at home with a very familiar foe, the War Eagles of Wakulla High School. The Cowboys faced the War Eagles in Crawfordville last season, in a game the Cowboys fought back from a 27-6, fourth quarter deficit, to win with a last-second touchdown pass. The memories of that game will no doubt be on the minds of the War Eagles as they come into Boot Hill Stadium. The Cowboys also faced the War Eagles in this year's spring game. After the spring game, it was the War Eagles who would fly back to Crawfordville as victors with a 20-14 final score. The War Eagles are coming to Boot Hill as the state's number six ranked team in Class 5A. The War Eagles fell to Lincoln High School in their kickoff classic game, but MCHS Head Coach Mike Coe warns about reading too much into that loss for the War Eagles. "I told our guys, 'Don't pay too much attention to that Lincoln score. That is not the same Wakulla team that will be coming into Boot Hill. They are going to come in here ready to play. We are going to have to earn it,'" said Coe. Wakulla returns a talented quarterback and two very good linebackers from last season. "They are very well coached and very athletic," added Coe.

The Cowboys are coming into the game after a good week of practice. "The guys have had a couple of really good days [of practice]," said Coe. One positive aspect of the week's practice has been the work of some of the younger players. Pressure from younger players can often make experienced, veteran players work harder. "Sometimes guys get the idea that they are entrenched in their positions. I always tell them, 'They aren't entrenched, they can be benched,'" said Coe with a chuckle. The Cowboys are fairly healthy after the scrimmage game with Crestview on Friday, Aug. 17, with the exception of losing defensive back Rodderick Johnson, who went down with a broken fibula early in Friday's scrimmage. "He [Johnson] just got rolled up on. That kind of thing happens. It hurts because he's a really good kid and he's been working really hard and improving. He'll be out for about six weeks. It's unfortunate, but that's also part of the game. It's 'next man up' when that kind of thing happens," said Coe. Coe is hopeful that defensive end Devin Norwood will be ready to play this week after recovering from a right arm injury.

This game could well be the toughest game on the schedule for both teams. An early season victory against a quality opponent could pay large dividends at the end of the season when playoff match-ups are determined.

Coe is hoping for a large crowd to fill Boot Hill Stadium. "I can't brag on these young men enough, I mean they work and they do it willingly. They deserve to have fans cheering them on," said Coe. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. tonight at Boot Hill Stadium on the MCHS campus. There will be a $5 per vehicle parking fee collected by the MCHS Athletic Boosters, which will be used to make improvements to the athletic training facilities at MCHS.

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