There is one more gigantic hurdle for Cooper to conquer in this memorable and magical run for the program. The reigning state champion Bowling Green Purples await the Jaguars in what will be virtually a home game for BG in the title tilt in Kentucky’s Class 5A.
For everything that Cooper has been through this season it would only be fitting for them to take down the Purples to end this historic run. That is a daunting task, but head coach Randy Borchers and his boys have lived up to and surpassed expectations all year. Will there be enough in the tank for one more encore?
COOPER JAGUARS (13-1) vs. BOWLING GREEN PURPLES (14-0)
Site: Houchens/LT Smith Stadium, Feix Field (Western Kentucky University)
Kickoff: Saturday, Dec. 1 at 3 p.m.
PLAYERS TO WATCH: The junior class for Bowling Green is loaded with talent at the offensive skills positions. Quarterback Devin Hayes has thrown for 2,544 yards and 38 touchdowns. The top target for Hayes is the electrifying Nacarius Fant, who has 67 receptions for 1,259 yards while finding the end zone 18 times. Fant is a terror in the return game with four touchdowns for the Purples’ special teams unit. Blue Tisdale has picked up 1,025 yards on the ground with 17 rushing and five receiving scores. Receiver Blake Pillow does a bit of everything with 14 offensive touchdowns. On defense, the top tacklers are Lincoln Quick and Allen Gonsalves. Gonsalves also has five takeaways. Owen Griffith and Josh Kelly have a knack of coming up with big plays.
The Cooper ground game was shut down for the first time all season last week at Harlan County. Look for running back AJ Collins and quarterback Tyler Morris to get the ground game started early and often. Receiver Aaron Morgan had more than 200 all-purpose yards last week. Cooper will need more of the same from him against Bowling Green. His success will allow them to spread the field on offense. Keep an eye on Avery Bricking, who could be a wild card for the ground game after putting up 221 yards this post-season. Dustin Mitchell and Taylor Centers will have their hands full with a big Purples’ offensive line. Morris, Collins and Morgan have been dynamite defending opponents passing attacks.
TEAM TRENDS: The Purples have won 29 games in a row. Their last loss was to Christian County on November 12th, 2010. Cooper’s 13 wins is just one fewer than the program amassed in their first four years of existence. The two teams combined for eight shutouts during the regular season (BG with five, Cooper with three).
COOPER’S KEYS TO VICTORY: The Jaguars are going to have to establish a rushing attack on offense in order to keep their defense off the field as long as possible. The last thing Cooper wants to do is give a home crowd for the Purples anything to cheer. That will be best avoided by controlling the clock.
BOWLING GREEN’S KEYS TO VICTORY: Depth could wear down the Cooper team. Bowling Green has a much deeper talent pool on their sidelines than the Jaguars do. Fresh legs and bodies constantly thrown out at Cooper will make BG stronger down the stretch.
PREDICTION: BOWLING GREEN 20, COOPER 14
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