CAIRO -- Fabian Cooper and Robert Thornton exemplified what the 2005 Cairo senior class was all about -- heart, determination and a desire to keep their heads held high in a season that ended prematurely for the Syrupmakers.
Cairo's 20-9 loss to LaGrange in the first round of the Class AAA playoffs Friday night ended the Syrupmakers' season and concluded the high school careers of the Syrupmakers' two leaders.
Both shined in their final appearance in a Cairo uniform. Cooper finished with 83 yards rushing, one rushing touchdown and 22 yards receiving.
No. 34 had plenty of memorable moments. On his first reception, a nine-yard outlet pass, Cooper drove his shoulder pads right into a Grangers defender and knocked his helmet off and into the Cairo sideline, exciting his teammates.
Cooper delivered again in the second quarter on a scintillating 28-yard scamper that saw him bounce off defenders and leap over another. The run led to Cairo's only touchdown, a two-yard plunge.
Thornton was a menace in the Grangers' backfield much of the game.
Thornton was an integral part in Cairo limiting LaGrange's wing-T offense to just 83 rushing yards. He was also in on a sack in the second half with teammate Nate Brinson.
Following the game, LaGrange head coach Steve Pardue paid Thornton a huge compliment, calling the defensive lineman one of his favorite players he's seen this year.
Cairo defensive end Brandon Anderson and linebacker Derrick Johnson also delivered in their career finales. Anderson recovered a fumble in the first half after a Grangers' receiver had it slip out of his hands. He also swatted a pass away in the third quarter on a key fourth- down play.
Like Thornton, Johnson found himself in the Grangers' backfield much of the first quarter stuffing their ground attack.
The play of Cairo's senior class left a lasting impression upon its head coach.
"I know they did a lot for us," said Cairo coach Tom Fallaw. "They came here tonight and played their butts off."
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