Bruce Judson 2016 Space Coast Daily, Friday Night Locker Room Player Of The Year
By Alan Zlotorzynski, Assistant Editor, Space Coast Daily // February 18, 2017
JUDSON WILL ATTEND UNIVERSITY OF OREGON
ABOVE VIDEO: 2016 Space Coast Daily – Friday Night Locker Room Player of the Year Bruce Judson’s highlights from Max Preps.
BREVARD COUNTY, FLORIDA – Last year, Chauncey Gardner of the Cocoa Tigers took home the SCD – FNLR Player of the Year award and proved this year, as a member of the Florida Gators, why he was so deserving of the honor.
Gardner finished his freshman season strong in Gainesville by winning the MVP award in the Outback Bowl for his dominating effort in the Gators impressive win over Iowa.
This season’s SCD – FNLR Player of the Year also hails from the Cocoa Tigers – four-year starter Bruce Judson.
To know Bruce is to know how hard he works and goal oriented he is.
As a four-year starter on one of the state’s top teams playing for one of the country’s top football coaches, John Wilkinson, Judson’s high school career finished on the highest of notes, as he led his team to its first State Championship title since Cocoa won three in a row from 2008-2010.
To complete the job he started back in 2013, Judson would have to do something every player at any level in any sport must do if they want to be considered one of the best at their craft, overcome adversity.
ABOVE VIDEO: Bruce Judson talks to Steve Wilson from the Friday Night Locker Room and Space Coast Daily following a win in 2015.
For Judson and the Cocoa Tigers, that adversity was beating the Booker T. Washington Tornadoes from Miami in the state semi-final round of the FHSAA High School Football Playoffs.
Since beating Glades Central 14-13 in 2010 to win their third consecutive state championship, the only obstacle the Tigers faced in winning as many as perhaps eight straight state titles was Booker T. The Tornadoes entered this year’s state semi final matchup with a five game playoff winning streak vs. Cocoa.
The Tigers closest contest was a 14-12 excruciating loss in 2014. Cocoa trailed 14-0 in that game before Judson tossed two fourth quarter touchdown passes, the last one on fourth down and with no time left on the clock to bring the Tigers within two .
ABOVE VIDEO: Bruce Judson’s touchdown pass to Chauncey Gardner with no time left on the clock in the 2014 state semi-final game.
Judson would try to convert the two point conversion but was tackled on what seemed to be one inch from the goalline. Coach Wilkinson said after the game, “All I care about is winning, so it doesn’t matter, we still lost.”
Even more painful was watching Booker T convert four of the five straight wins into state titles as the Tornadoes won four straight Class 4A championships from 2012-2015. In all, the Tigers were outscored 157-63 during the five game playoff slide to the Tornadoes.
Entering his senior season, Judson knew the outcome had to be different and he showed how that would be accomplished in a week one nationally televised ESPN game vs. Class 3A powerhouse and perennial state champion, Trinity Christian.
Judson finished the day with over 250 all purpose yards through the air and on the ground, as the Tigers defeated the Conquerors 26-23 in overtime. The winning score was a Judson seven yard run in which he shed tacklers on his back on the way to the end zone.
ABOVE VIDEO: The Tigers victory over Trinity Christian.
The Tigers stumbled just once all-season and it occurred in Cocoa’s very next game on the road in another nationally televised contest, this time versus Bishop Gorman in Las Vegas, Nevada.
No shame in losing here. The Gaels finished the season with their 54th consecutive win in their eighth straight state championship game victory, an 84-8 win. They also completed the sweep as No.1 team in the Super 25 Expert and Super 25 Computer rankings.
Cocoa never lost a game the rest of the season, as Judson passed for nearly 800 yards, 13 TD’s and just one interception over the Tigers final 10 games. He also rushed for 760 yards adding eight more rushing touchdowns.
One game at a time and you never look ahead coaches say, but Cocoa and Booker T. were once again on a collision course to meet in the state semifinal game.
When the FHSAA playoff smoked cleared, the Tornadoes were coming to Cocoa in hopes of keeping their streak of four straight state championships and five straight wins over the Tigers alive.
ABOVE VIDEO: Lasedrick King of Cocoa scores the game winning TD over Booker T. Washington to help the Tigers advance to the state championship game.
The game lived up to the hype.
Cocoa scored first in the second quarter when Zach Christian fell on a muffed punt in the end zone to put Cocoa ahead 7-0. But the Tornadoes stormed back and led 14-7 at halftime. The stage was set for the second half battle that would ensue.
Judson scored from a yard out to tie the game with 7:39 to play in the third quarter and following a 30-yard field goal from Tigers kicker Alex Petruzzello, Cocoa led 17-14.
Judson’s counterpart, Tornadoe signal caller, sophomore Daniel Richardson put Booker T back on top after he led his team quickly down the field and plunged into the end zone from a yard out to put Booker T up 21-17 late in the third quarter. On the very next possession, the unthinkable happened, Judson threw an interception setting up Booker T. on Cocoa’s 14-yard line.
Adversity had once again hit Judson and the Tigers in the face but playing quarterback requires a short memory and Judson knew if somehow his defense could hold Booker T to just a field goal, or no points at all, he would do what was necessary and win the game.
Cocoa’s defense allowed just two yards on the Tornadoes next three plays forcing a fourth and eight from the 12-yard line. With the lead and the ball in the fourth quarter, Tornadoes head coach Tim “Ice Harris, one of the best coaches in the country, did the unthinkable.
ABOVE VIDEO: QB Bruce Judson talks with FNLR’s Steve Wilson about the Tigers win over the Tornadoes.
Harris went against conventional wisdom and decided to forgo the three points on the road to extend the lead to seven and instead opted to try and put the game away with a touchdown. Cocoa’s stout defense held, Harris’ decision failed and Judson had new life.
After trading possessions, one in which Booker T drove to the Cocoa 30 yard line, the Tigers took over on their final possession of the game on their own 21-yard line.
What happened on the game winning drive punctuated Judson’s leadership and athletic ability. A team known for running the ball, Cocoa needed Judson’s arm to win the game and he came through.
After completing passes of 20 and 30 yards to Javian Hawkins and Dezmond Morgan respectively, the Tigers were inside the red zone and shortly thereafter, LaSedrick King finished off the drive and Booker T. with a 15-yard TD run.
After one final desperate attempt with under a minute to play by the Tornadoes offense, Judson and the Tigers had overcome their adversity and were headed to the state championship game.
If Judson’s final drive vs. Booker T. punctuated his overall talents, the state title game punctuated his successful high school career. Cocoa dominated in Orlando, routing Florida powerhouse Bolles from Jacksonville, 31-17.
The SCD – FNLR Player of the Year was also the player of the Game in Orlando. Judson led the Tigers with 158 rushing yards, including a 75-yard touchdown run to put the Tigers up 21-7 in the second quarter.
ABOVE VIDEO: Zach Clark, Managing Editor of Space Coast Daily delivers a gem of a video in this State Championship Game Rewind In 3 Minutes.
This past season, including the playoffs, Judson passed for 1,191 yards and 16 touchdowns while leading the Tigers to a 12-1 record. He finished with 866 rushing yards adding 10 rushing touchdowns.
In his career, Judson combined to amass 9,330 total yards of offense and 129 touchdowns (5,100 P-4, 230 R).
Incredibly, Judson averaged 8.5 yards per carry and 32 touchdowns per season during his high school career—nearly a touchdown per game during that span.
After flirting with several colleges such as the University of Florida and Ohio State, Judson committed to play for a man he and his parents felt was one of them, a man that felt a part of his family, University of South Florida head coach Willie Taggart.
Taggart’s success with the Bulls in terms of his record and recruiting players like Judson, landed him an interview with the Oregon Ducks from the PAC-12 conference.
Hired almost immediately by Oregon, Taggart never left the state.
What happened next shocked no one in the recruiting world. USF’s new head coach Charlie Strong expressed a willingness to have Judson come to play for him but Taggart offered Judson quickly after arriving in Eugene and on the Friday before the Feb 1 deadline to sign a letter of intent, Judson committed to follow Taggart to Oregon.
In a telephone interview that night with Space Coast Daily Judson said, “It came down to relationships and my relationship with coach Taggart is like a father and son.”
ABOVE VIDEO: EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW, Cocoa Tigers Star Bruce Judson Commits To Oregon Football and talks with Alan Zlotorzynski about it on Space Coast Daily Sports Talk.
Judson is a loyal young man, a rare trait in today’s younger generation and he knows how to succeed on and off the football field.
It’s likely Judson plays a different position in college. He always said he’s willing to do whatever it takes to help his team, evidenced this past season when Judson stepped on the field at times in the Cocoa Tigers defensive secondary.
Judson will once again face adversity at the next level. He, along with his incoming class and coach Taggart, will be tasked with putting the Ducks football program back in the Top 10 and competing for national championships
But knowing the 2016 SCD – FNLR player of the year’s’ work ethic and ability, it is highly likely Judson will experience the first year success that last season’s winner of this award and former teammate, Chauncey Gardner did.
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