Cooper, Hoggard Win Title

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. --- Jonathan Cooper concluded his high school career by helping deliver Wilmington (N.C.) Hoggard its first State Championship in football with a dominating 28-0 victory over Winston-Salem (N.C.) Mt. Tabor.

"Words can't explain how good it feels," Cooper said. "I'm so excited, but I'm sad that my career at Hoggard is over."

Cooper, a 6-foot-3, 305-pounder, started at left guard and strong-side defensive end. He also served as the middle up-back on the punt team.

"I think, I did pretty good," Cooper said. "[I had] a couple minor errors on defense, but I feel happy with my performance."

Cooper helped path the way for Hoggard to rush for 180 yards and four touchdowns. The offensive line also didn't allow a single sack all game. Defensively, he collected a tackle for a loss.

Hoggard, which headed into the game as the top-ranked team in the Associated Press 4-A poll, ended the season unbeaten (15-0).

"I feel like we did what we needed to do [to win the state championship], but we could have done it better," Cooper said.

After the game, Cooper and teammate Casey Barth will head down to Spartanburg (S.C.) to report for North Carolina's Shrine Bowl team.

In January, Cooper will shift his entire focus to his recruitment.

"I am scheduled to take a visit to North Carolina first, and then NC State I'm taking a visit there also," Cooper said. "North Carolina will either be the first or second Friday in January. NC State is a week after that."

Additionally, Cooper will take official visits to South Carolina and Wake Forest.

Cooper, who doesn't claim a leader, classifies the communication with UNC as "constant."

"If I'm not talking to Coach [Sam] Pittman, my mom is, and he just stays on me," Cooper said. "He says he's trying to stay away from recruiting me, but rather focus on building a relationship."

Other Players of Note: Casey Barth (K/P) converted all four of his extra points and averaged 38 yards on four punts with a long of 44 yards. He booted two of his five kickoffs into the end zone for touchbacks with the three that fell short landing at the one-yard line.

Luke Caldwell (WR, Hoggard) was awarded the Outstanding Offensive Player for the winner after catching four passes for 104 yards.

Junior Hunter Furr (RB, Mt. Tabor) rushed 15 times for 67 yards (4.5-yard average). The 6-foot, 210-pounder also caught a pass for one yard.

Ed Gainey (S/RB, Mt. Tabor) was named Outstanding Defensive Player for the runner-up. He collected seven tackles (all solo) and a touchdown saving interception in the end zone. Offensively, he rushed twice for five yards and caught two passes for nine yards. He returned a punt for a yard and returned two kicks for 24 yards.

Junior Shawn Sidbury (RB/CB) was named the game's Most Valuable Player. The 5-foot-9, 170-pounder accumulated 73 yards and two touchdowns on 21 rushes. Defensively, he intercepted a pass and returned it 71 yards and broke-up three other passes. He also totaled eight tackles (three solo) including one for a loss.

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