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May 24, 2013

Cougars look to defend 5A title

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We continue our 30 stops in 30 days in Tallahassee - home of the Godby Cougars.

Following two state championship game appearances in the past five years, including the 5A state title last season, the Cougars have the talent to make another run in 2013.

Head coach Ronnie Cottrell, who coached at FSU under Bobby Bowden in the 90s and at Alabama under Mike DeBose in the late 90s, won his first state title as a head coach last season as Godby defeated Immokalee, 21-20, to win the Class 5A title.

"I don't know if there is anything that I have ever been involved in that was as great as that week was," he said. "It was a very special one. I have been around a lot of championship teams, but that was a very special group of guys. They played together. They almost willed their way to victory."

Godby will return five offensive starters this season, including quarterback J.T. Bradwell, who threw for 2,440 yards and 19 touchdowns as a junior.

Sophomore Jaylin Hayward (33 catches, 514 yards), who is considered one of the top skill players in Florida, will play running back, wide receiver and defensive back.

The Cougars will be loaded on the defensive side of the ball as they are led by Jacob Pugh, who is an Under Armour All-American game selection. Last year, Pugh had 98 tackles, including 15 for a loss.

"He has tremendous length and is a great pass rusher," said Cottrell. "He does a great job of defending players in space. He's got a great combination. This spring he has been a very effective leader."

Pugh and 3-star linebacker Kris Harris (currently out due to labrum surgery), give the Cougars a solid 1-2 punch in the middle of the defense.

Defensive backs Tony Fields (thumb surgery), Deion Singleton and Louisville commit De'Eric Culver form a salty secondary.

The schedule is loaded with a game at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa against Plant in the Fox Florida Classic, followed by a trip to DeMatha Catholic (Maryland) for a nationally-televised game (ESPN) on Monday, September 2. It will be played at the University of Maryland as part of the inaugural Under Armour Brothers In Arms Classic.

Rickards and Wakulla are in their district, plus the Cougars play at cross-town rival Lincoln in the regular season finale.

"We play a brutal schedule," said Cottrell. "We are going to find out very early what this team is about."

The Cougars will play their spring game tonight against Madison County and East Gadsden.

Cottrell said he's looking forward to the match-ups.

"We've had a very good spring, but we've had a lot of kids out due to injury," he noted. "We're excited about playing someone else instead of against each other."


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