Cocoa Tigers Fall to Cardinal Gibbons 21-19 in the Class 4A State Championship
By Juan Rodriguez, Space Coast Daily // December 16, 2021
tigers seventh state championship appearance in program history
BREVARD COUNTY • COCOA, FLORIDA – The Cocoa Tigers are set to face the Cardinal Gibbons Chiefs in the FHSAA Class 4A State Championship Friday night in Ft. Lauderdale.
Cocoa defeated Bolles High School 35-24 in an impressive comeback victory in the state semifinal game on Dec. 3 to advance to the FHSAA Class 4A title game.
The Tigers trailed 24-7 in the first half and went on to score 28 unanswered points in the second half to defeat the Bulldogs. Senior quarterback Davin Wydner threw for 324 yards, 3 touchdowns, and tallied a QB rating of 140.6.
Wide receiver Donte Cook had arguably his best game as a Cocoa Tiger – and at the right time – as he finished with 8 receptions for 108 yards and three touchdowns.
The Tiger’s “Darkside Defense” had a lot to do with Cocoa’s comeback against Bolles. The team had a total of 87 tackles, led by safety Cedrick Hawkins who racked up 18 tackles himself.
The Tigers return to the state championship game for the first time since 2018. This is will be the seventh state championship appearance in program history, and second under Tiger head coach Ryan Schneider, who is 38-10 since taking over as head coach for the Tigers. He will be looking to add a state champion to his resume on Dec. 16.
Cocoa finished the regular season with an 8-1 record and began the 2021 postseason with a first-round bye. The Tigers then hosted South Sumter High School, shutting out the Raiders 41-0 in the regional semifinals. Cocoa then advanced to the state semifinals and put together a remarkable second-half comeback to defeat Bolles 35-24.
The kickoff for the Class 4A State Championship game is set for 7 p.m. at the newly renovated DRV PNK Stadium in Fort Lauderdale as Cocoa will face the Cardinal Gibbons Chiefs.
The Cardinal Gibbons Chiefs ended the Tigers’ season last year in the 2020 state semifinal game 45-15.
Cardinal Gibbons enter this match as the defending Class 4A State Champions after defeating Bolles 35-21 last year in Tallahassee. The Chiefs have won two state championships in the last three seasons.
The Chiefs have been on a tear all season long, they are 10-2 on the season and can score at ease against the best of them.
Cardinal Gibbons has scored 114 points through their 3 playoff games this season. Offensively they are well balanced, they’ve passed for 2,220 yards and have rushed for 1,817.
When you look at the numbers it’s hard to spot a weakness on this team. Defensively they’ve been causing havoc all year. Racking up 762 total tackles, 24 quarterback sacks, and 12 interceptions.
The Tigers will look to bring a championship back home for the first time since 2016, which is highlighted in the below video.
ABOVE VIDEO: Cocoa High School Football – 2017 Space Coast Sports Hall of Fame
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.
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