Cocoa’s Speed Too Much For Dr. Phillips

By  //  May 26, 2012

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Folston's Play Sparkles

The Cocoa Tigers gather before Friday's spring game against Dr. Phillips. (Image by Jeff Navin)

BREVARD COUNTY • COCOA, FLORIDA – Cocoa kept a few secrets during Friday’s spring prep football game, but the play of its defense wasn’t one of them.

The Tigers blanked Class 8A football powerhouse Dr. Phillips 26-0, displaying the trademark speed and strength which helped them win state titles in 2008, 2009 and 2010 before slipping in the Class 4A State Semifinals last season.

Cocoa fell 20-14 in overtime to Booker T. Washington of Miami to finish 8-5.

“We’re losing five, six guys on defense,” Cocoa coach John Wilkinson said. “To come out and post a shutout against this team, that’s awesome. … We bent, but we didn’t break.”


Tarean Folston, who will be a senior this fall, played quarterback as Cocoa worked on its wildcat offense.

Folston’s 30-yard scoring pass to Antwan Lee gave Cocoa a 9-0 lead in the second quarter. Folston led the Tigers with 57 yards on 20 carries and he completed 3 of 4 passes for 48 yards. He also punted two times for an average of 50.5 yards.

Rising senior Tarean Folston’s 30-yard scoring pass to Antwan Lee gave Cocoa a 9-0 lead in the second quarter Friday against Dr. Phillips. (Image courtesy Cocoa High School football)

“I’m not sure if he (Folston) will play quarterback for us (in the fall),” Wilkinson said. “We’ve always run some wildcat, and we wanted to work on some things in this game. We’ve got five legitimate threats on offense, so we’ll spread it around more in the fall.”

A smart timeout by Wilkinson late in the first quarter helped the Tigers forge an eventual 3-0 advantage.

Strange Punt

Instead of running out the clock and changing sides to punt with the wind at his back, Dr. Phillips punter Ricky Buckner was forced to punt with a stiff wind in his face.

That wind and a heavy rush by Cocoa prompted the side-winding punter to boot the ball into the back of one of his blockers. When the bizarre play ended, the Tigers had the ball at the Panthers’ 25 after the measly 3-yard punt.

Dr. Phillips was whistled for an offside penalty on first down and, one play later, Jamel Dean utilized a power stiff arm on a run to the left side for a 5-yard gain to the Dr. Phillips 15.

The drive then stalled, despite a facemask penalty assessed against Dr. Phillips. Cocoa settled for 25-yard field goal by Matt Adams with 9 minutes, 23 seconds to play in the second quarter.

Cocoa’s Tavares Parks then recovered a fumble on the ensuing kickoff as the Tigers took possession at the Panthers’ 30.

Folston lobbed the ball over the middle to a wide-open Lee on first down and he ran untouched for a 30-yard touchdown with 9:10 to play before halftime. A bad snap on the extra-point attempt left Cocoa with a 9-0 advantage, with all of the points coming in a 13-second span.

Tune Up

“We tried to treat it (the Spring Game) as if it’s a ballgame in the fall,” Wilkinson said.”If they’re going to keep score, we’re going to try to win playing a good football team like that. We do that because they expose your weaknesses. Coach (Rodney) Wells does a fantastic job.”

Wells guided Dr. Phillips to a 10-2 record last season in his first year as head coach. The Panthers fell 49-13 in the second round of the Class 8A state playoffs to Plant, the eventual state champion. In 2010, Dr. Phillips lost 42-27 to Miami Central in the Class 6A Championship Game on its way to a 14-2 record. That runner-up status was vacated after it was ruled Dr. Phillips had used an ineligible player.

Terence Gray fielded Adams’ kick at the Panthers’ 35 and returned it 20 yards to the Cocoa 45. One play later, Denzel Hanner fumbled the ball on a quarterback keeper and the ball was recovered by Cocoa’s DeMarcus Sweeting at the 50-yard line.

Lorenzo Pratt rushed for 9 yards up the middle on second down, and Lee powered for 1 yard up the middle on a fake punt on fourth-down-and-1 as the Tigers maintained possession.

Folston ran to the right for 3 yards, Lee sprinted 2 yards to the left and Folston’s 6-yard pass to Lee on third down advanced the ball to the Dr. Phillips 29. Folston ran 2 yards to the left on first down and added a 7-yard run to the left on third down to set up another fourth-down-and-1. Dr. Phillips then jumped offsides to give Cocoa a first down at the 15.


The Panthers were penalized 11 times in the game for 115 yards.

Lee sprinted 15 yards to the right for his second touchdown of the game. Adams booted the extra point to give the Tigers a 16-0 lead with 2:06 to play in the first half.

Cocoa kicker Matt Adams booted a 32-yard field goal in the third quarter against Dr. Phillips on Friday. (Image by Jeff Navin)

Dr. Phillips drove from its own 37 to the Cocoa 18 on its first possession of the game. But, Hanner’s fourth-down-and-6 pass from the Cocoa 18 fell incomplete as the Tigers took over on downs.

“We chose to sit back since we didn’t know much about the transfer quarterback (Hanner),” Wilkinson said. “We wanted to see what he could do. Then, we settled on blitzing more and it seemed to work.”

After a hot start, Hanner finished 7 of 15 for 41 yards and one interception. Backup quarterback Stephen Maloney completed 5 of 10 passes for 41 yards. Dr. Phillips rushed for 63 yards on 31 carries. The Panthers fumbled the ball five times and lost four.

One of those fumbles gave Cocoa the ball at the Dr. Phillips 23 with 8:07 to play in the third quarter. Consecutive runs by Folston to the right for 12 yards and 3 yards moved the ball to the Panthers’ 8, but the drive stalled after a fumble and a penalty. Adams kicked a 32-yard field goal to extend the Tigers’ lead to 19-0 with 5:45 to play in the quarter.

Folston ran the ball three times for 31 yards, including a 21-yard run to the left on third-down-and-1, to set up Pratt’s 4-yard scoring burst up the middle with 7:12 to play in the game. Adams added his second PAT to cap the six-play, 43-yard drive as the Tigers built a 26-0 advantage.


Dr. Phillips drove to the Cocoa 7 on its final possession, but Cocoa stuffed the threat with a 12-yard sack of Maloney. The drive ended with 1:10 remaining as Maloney, under pressure on fourth down, threw a short, desperation pass to offensive lineman Cody Krueger, who instinctively caught the ball despite being an ineligible receiver.

Cocoa will open the regular season at home against American Heritage of Delray Beach on Saturday, Aug. 25.

The noon game will be televised by ESPN.

Last fall, American Heritage trounced Madison County 30-3 to win the Class 3A Championship Game. The Stallions finished with a 12-1 record.