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Cowboys Gameday: The Hawthorne hurdle

Rick Patrick: Greene Publishing, Inc.

After winning the Class 1A region championship on Friday, Nov. 23, Madison County High School (MCHS) head football coach Mike Coe told reporters that he didn't feel the Cowboys had yet played their best game. This was a significant statement after the Cowboys had handily defeated a very good Chiefland Indians team, 49-14. Even with some bumps in the road, the Cowboys have been improving as the season has progressed.

The Cowboys will likely have to play their best game of the season so far if they are going to be in position to accomplish something that has never been done in the storied history of Cowboys football. That is, to win back-to-back state championships. Standing in the way of that is the big hurdle of the Hornets of Hawthorne High School. There are those on the football team who are very familiar with Hawthorne's basketball program. Those football players who also play on the Cowboys' basketball team know that Hawthorne eliminated the Cowboys from the state basketball tournament two years in a row before last season when the Cowboys dominated the Hornets on the court to punch their ticket to the high school basketball final four in Lakeland. This time, the Cowboys face the Hornets, not on the hardwoods of the basketball court, but on the green turf of Boot Hill Stadium.

The Hornets are coming into the contest with an undefeated record of 12-0. The Hornets' potent offense is led by quarterback Kahleil Jackson, a 6' 3", 185 lb senior with over 2,600 yards passing this season. Jackson has a strong arm and very talented receivers for targets. Jackson has thrown a total of 42 touchdown passes and five interceptions this season. Defensively, the Hornets have allowed an average of just six points per game this season. The Hornets have averaged just over 50 points per game in scoring.

"Hawthorne is a tremendous team with great team speed," said Coach Coe. "They play with great effort and enthusiasm. They are led by their quarterback, running back and a host of wide receivers that can really go. They are not very big, but they play the right way on defense. They will present a great challenge for us and our guys will have to play their very best to pull this one off. We have had a great week of preparation and our guys are excited about the opportunity to go out and compete for the right to play for the state title next Thursday afternoon. They have been a big part of the history of Boot Hill and have never lost a game at Boot Hill Stadium. We need all of our community to show up and show out for this one. Our young men deserve it and feed off of their energy!"

The Class 1A state semi-final game between the MCHS Cowboys and the Hawthorne Hornets is scheduled for Friday, Nov. 30, at Boot Hill Stadium, on the MCHS campus. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m.

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