CAIRO -- Cairo's Fabian Cooper's next-to-last carry against Jefferson County last Friday night left a lasting impression on the Warriors and even the fans of the Syrupmakers.
With the game deadlocked 28-28 in the fourth quarter, Cooper plunged off left tackle, shredded several would-be Warriors, dragging a few a long the way for 22 yards. It led to Cairo's game-winning touchdown that propelled the Syrupmakers into the second round of the Class AAA playoffs Friday night.
But it was that one run, out of Cooper's 25 in the game, that symbolized his night -- heart, determination and an unwillingness to go down.
"I just never stopped driving my feet," Cooper said. "As a tailback, you've got to learn how to drive your feet, hard and keep moving your legs. I just ran until they got me down."
"I think anytime a kid runs for 220 yards, I probably don't need to say a lot," Cairo head coach Tom Fallaw said. "I guess it's already emphasized enough.
"He had a great game."
The 220 yards was a season-high for Cooper. But the junior tailback isn't worried about personal numbers or career-highs. His main concern deals with team and its ability to function as one, a popular concept felt among the team, starting with Fallaw.
"A lot of that credit goes to several people," Fallaw said. "It goes to the offensive line, it goes to (quarterback) Brandon Robinson for the type of half he had in the first half throwing the football. When we can throw it, we can get some people out of the box and give Fabian the opportunity to make people miss. There were a couple of runs in the second half where Fabian decided we just weren't going to lose that game. He did a good job."
Robinson's success in the first half (4-of-9, 142 yards, two touchdowns) accomplished the Syrupmakers' goals offensively.
"We don't throw a bunch," said Fallaw. "We throw in order to set up what we want to do on the run game. When people come in here, the first thing they want to do against us is stop the run. If we can't show them we can complete some passes, then we're going to be in for a long night running the ball.
"We're a tailback-dominated team. People know we're going to run the football. We've got to do a good job, overall as a team, at executing our assignments. Hopefully, Fabian will be able to get his yards, or Danta (Harrell) or whoever we have back there."
Cooper's terrific game on the ground is even more impressive considering he hardly ever gets a breather. He is seen a lot on defense at outside linebacker. Cooper credits assistant coach Jesse Solomon for his and the team's peak physical condition.
"That's a big part. If it wasn't for (Coach Solomon) we would be like we were last year," added Cooper. "Last year, we got tired quick, the fourth quarter, we were done. This year, we've got a coach that runs us, he gets us in condition. Now when the fourth quarter hits, you might as well say that's the whole Syrupmaker quarter there. When that second wind kicks in for us, that's when we do our thing."
Cooper did his thing in the second half against the Warriors, piling up 157 rushing yards.
But the 22 yards he collected on a play in the fourth quarter, is etched in the minds of the Cairo faithful.
"He probably carried about four players the last seven yards," added Cairo's second-year head coach.
"He showed a lot of heart and determination on that run, that's for sure."
But the humble Cooper is always quick to give credit where it's due.
"I couldn't do nothing without (the offensive line)," Cooper said.
This Week's Circulars
- Cairo puts in new measures against virus spread
- Residents charged with fireworks violations
- Ochlocknee man dies in Gwinnett County crash
- Stolen gun recovered in traffic stop
- Shooting range manager, assistants appointed
- 19 new COVID-19 cases in Thomas County
- Fake city checks caught up in scam
- Thomas County hits 500 COVID-19 cases
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