GOOD HOPE —
Coach Patrick McDonald is a big believer in hard work paying off.
For his Good Hope middle school squad, he was absolutely right.
McDonald’s Raiders closed out a perfect 7-0 campaign with a 14-0 win over Fairview at home on Thursday to win the Cullman County middle school championship.
“It’s just been an absolute dream season,” the coach said. “I couldn’t ask for anything more out of these kids.”
Good Hope used a stifling defensive performance to go along with a two-touchdown effort from eighth-grade running back Matt Cofer to the Raiders’ second win over Fairview this season.
Good Hope beat the Aggies 14-6 back in September.
The game started out well for the Raiders as they marched down the field on an 11-play drive to take an early 6-0 lead on a 22-yard touchdown run from Cofer.
Cofer had also converted a fourth down to extend the drive.
Fairview was held to just four plays on its first possession, as Canner Osteen was stopped on a reverse by Good Hope’s Wesley Kelly on fourth down.
Both teams possessed the ball one more time in the half, but neither were able to turn the drives into points.
The second half began with turnovers-on-down for each team.
Fairview’s Ragan Ashley was then intercepted by Cofer inside Aggie territory, but the Raiders couldn’t capitalize, giving the ball back to the Purple and Gold with just over six minutes left in the game.
However, Fairview was stopped in just three plays, forcing a punt deep inside its own territory.
It was then that Cofer put the game out of reach, returning the punt 25 yards to the Aggies’ 10-yard line.
After an illegal substitution penalty moved the ball forward five yards, Cofer took it the rest of the way, scoring on a 5-yard scamper. He also added the 2-point conversion to extend the lead to the eventual final score.
Cofer, who finished with over 100 yards on the ground, was eager to pass out praise after the game.
“We owe this all to the Lord,” he said. “I don’t think any middle school team has gone undefeated before, so we are out here making history.”
Cofer went on to talk about his supporting cast.
“My teammates are the best teammates a guy could have,” he added. “The coaches stepped up as well and coached us to where we needed to be.”
McDonald said Cofer has been a leader all year long.
“He saved his best game for last,” the coach said. “Anytime we needed a big play in the game or all year, we just gave him the ball.”
Fairview coach Cody Rasco was proud of his team after the game.
“It was a great year for us,” he said. “These kids deserved to be in this game tonight, but give Good Hope all the credit. They are a great team and they deserved to win.”
% Jake Winfrey can be reached at 256-734-2131, ext. 258 or at email@example.com.