COCOA HIGH FOOTBALL: Tigers Demonstrated ‘True Grit’ in Winning Fourth State Championship
By SPACE COAST SPORTS HALL OF FAME // May 1, 2017
SPACE COAST SPORTS HALL OF FAME
ABOVE VIDEO: Cocoa High School Football – 2017 Space Coast Sports Hall of Fame
2017 TEAM AWARD
TEAM ON A MISSION
BREVARD COUNTY, FLORIDA – The Cocoa Tigers football team entered the 2016 season with one mission, win the state championship. After all, winning state titles was not a new concept to head coach and Space Coast Sports Hall of Famer John Wilkinson.
To start the season, the Tigers were thought of as the third best team in Class 4A, behind the Bolles Bulldogs and Cocoa nemesis Booker T. Washington High School.
Both teams would have to be dealt with before the Tigers could once again hoist another trophy.
But before Cocoa could even think about November and December, Coach Wilkinson had once again lined his scheduled in August and September with top teams from around the state and country.
The Tigers’ demonstrated “True Grit” early in the season when, led by quarterback Bruce Judson, they beat the two time defending state champs and top ranked Class 3A team in Florida, the Trinity Christian Conquerors, 26-23 in overtime in a nationally televised game on ESPN.
Two weeks later the Tigers headed to Las Vegas where they faced the eventual season ending No. 1 high school football team in the country – the Bishop Gorman Gaels.
The Tigers hung with the eventual Nevada state champs for a half but fell short in the end for their only loss of the season.
The experience gained in playing two great teams was invaluable and the Tigers showed how much they had learned over the next eight weeks.
Except for a tough game vs. one of Brevard County’s new football powers, the Viera Hawks, a game the Tigers won 17-7, Cocoa outscored the rest of their opponents by 200 points, 250-50 over five games.
Heading into the playoffs the Tigers were 8-1 and 4-0 in district play outscoring district foes by nearly 40 points per contest.
BEAT BOOKER T. 24-21, DOMINATED TITLE GAME
After an easy win in the first round of the playoffs, the Tigers fell behind early in the second round against Jones, but pulled it out in the end to set up a third round rematch Judson and the rest of the Tigers knew deep down inside they were preparing for all year.
Booker T. Washington again stood in the way of Cocoa’s quest for another gridiron state championship.
ABOVE VIDEO: SCD SPECIAL – Cocoa Tigers Football State Championship Game Rewind In 3 Minutes.
The game lived up to the hype, with Cocoa on its home field breaking the Tornadoes’ five-year hold on the playoff series with tenacious defense, opportunistic offense and a few favorable “bounces” that resulted in a 24-21 Tiger victory and a showdown date at the Citrus Bowl with 11-time state champion, Jacksonville Bolles.
The championship game turned out to be anti-climactic as the Tigers controlled the Class 4A state title game from start to finish. As it was all season, the 31-17 championship win was a team effort with sterling performances by the offense, defense and special teams.
The accolades and awards that come with a championship win followed. Coach Wilkinson was named the Friday Night Locker Room–Space Coast Daily Co-Coach of the year.
On defense, Cocoa was led by Friday Night Locker Room–Space Coast Daily Defensive Player of the Year CJ Bartley. The District 12 MVP and All-District quarterback, Bruce Judson earned the Friday Night Locker Room–Space Coast Daily Player of the Year for 2016.
Numerous other Tigers, including nearly all of the starters from both sides of the ball were either a first or second team Friday Night Locker Room–Space Coast Daily winner or made honorable mention.
THE 2017 SPACE COAST SPORTS HALL OF FAME Banquet and Induction Ceremony will take place at the Cocoa Beach Country Club on Friday, May 12.
FOR INFORMATION ABOUT the 2017 SPACE COAST SPORTS HALL OF FAME, call 321-615-8111 or e-mail Contact@SpaceCoastDaily.com
CLICK HERE to see all the members of the Space Coast Sports Hall of Fame.
Space Coast Sports Hall of Fame Class of 2017 Announced, Induction Ceremony Set May 12
BREVARD COUNTY, FLORIDA – The Space Coast Sports Hall of Fame selection committee announced Thursday an impressive array of outstanding individuals to be inducted into the 2017 Class of the Hall of Fame.
Dozens of nominees were considered for the 2017 class in four categories including professional sports, college sports, high school sports and amateur sports.
Special honorary recognition will also be bestowed upon individuals and teams that have made significant contributions to sports on the Space Coast.
Space Coast Daily created the Space Coast Sports Hall of Fame in 2012, and has so far inducted more than 100 of Brevard County’s most outstanding athletes, coaches and sports personalities.
Serving on the committee are Space Coast Daily President & Publisher Tom Palermo, Vice President Giles Malone, Editor-in-Chief Dr. Jim Palermo, Managing Editor Zach Clark, Assistant Editor Alan Zlotorzynski, local youth sports advocate and promoter Mike Cadore, Friday Night Locker Room Founders Steve Wilson and Orville Susong, former Health First COO Larry Garrison, Cocoa Beach City Manager Jim McKnight and AAU Vice President Rusty Buchanan.
“The list of inductees for 2017 induction include athletes and coaches everybody knows – and some that may have been forgotten with the passing of time,” said Tom Palermo.
INDUCTION GALA & SPORTS AWARDS SET FOR MAY 12
The 2017 Space Coast Sports Hall of Fame Induction Banquet and Sports Awards will be held Friday, May 12 at the Cocoa Beach County Club.
The festivities include a meet and greet with the area’s sports royalty, dinner and the induction proceeding which includes compelling video tributes of each of the inductees.
The 2017 Space Coast Sports Hall of Fame induction event, and the 2017 High School Breakfast of Champions recognition awards, are sponsored by Community Credit Union, First Choice Medical Group, SOAR, Clear Choice Health Care, BioCellular Therapies, Savings Safari, Spectrum Sports, Friday Night Locker Room, Dr. Sangiv Patel, Dr. Mark Pinsky and Rock Paper Simple..
FOR INFORMATION about the Space Coast Sports Hall of Fame, or to make a reservation, e-mail Contact@SpaceCoastDaily.com or call 321-615-8111.
SPACE COAST DAILY TV: Tim Wakefield talks about his induction into the first class of the Space Coast Sports Hall of Fame.
SPACE COAST SPORTS HALL OF FAME CLASS OF 2017
• PROFESSIONAL CATEGORY INDUCTEES: Joe Kohlbrand, Football; and Cory Philpot, Football
• COLLEGE CATEGORY INDUCTEES: Jason Arnold, Baseball; Michael Coffey, Bowling; Reggie Hannah, Basketball; Paige Kearns, Swimming; and Charles Wilson, Football.
• PREP CATEGORY INDUCTEES: Kristen Gordon, Softball; Ray Herring, Jr. Football; Katie Jackson, Soccer; and Hunter Pingston, Football.
• AMATEUR/REC CATEGORY INDUCTEES: Richard Chapman, Little League; Todd Erickson, Softball; Al Genchi, Youth Soccer; and David Kilgore, Running.
• COACHING CATEGORY INDUCTEES: Skip Arrich, Soccer; Tom Dooley, Baseball; Chuck Keener, Tennis; Steve Lamontagne, Golf; and Mike Soliven, Basketball.
• SPORTS DEVELOPMENT INDUCTEES: Jeff Carr, Eastern Florida State College; and Steve Englehart, Florida Tech.
• LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT INDUCTEES: Linda Anderson, Athletic Director; and Les Stafford, Volunteer
• SPORTS OFFICIALS INDUCTEES: Neely Dunn and Bob Walton.
• SPORTS JOURNALISM INDUCTEES: Hillard Grossman.
• SPORTS AMBASSADOR AWARD INDUCTEE : Gary Gregory, PAL Boxing.
• CHALLENGER AWARDS INDUCTEES: Brevard Special Olympics – Coach Cindy Dropeski, Athlete Chuck Conway and Volunteer Kathi Madden.
• TEAM OF THE YEAR: Cocoa High School 2016 Football State Champions.
• SPECIAL TRIBUTE: Jim Grimes, Basketball, Eastern Florida State College
CLICK HERE TO SEE THE MEMBERS OF THE SPACE COAST SPORTS HALL OF FAME