BY ETHAN MUNCAN
With full hearts and the hunger to win, the Cooper City Cowboys traveled to Cypress Bay High School on Monday, August 28 for their first game of the season. With a large turnout of fans for both the Lightning and the Cowboys, the intensity was high and kickoff was near.
To start off the game, Cowboys senior Mark Brent returned the Cypress Bay kick to the 20 yard line to set up Cooper’s drive. Cooper City found their rhythm straight away, and began picking apart Cypress with multiple screen plays to receivers Kobe Simmons and Mark Brent. Cooper made their way to the 15 yard line where senior quarterback Michael Diliello threw a fade to Simmons, who made the game 6-0. Lucas Gross stepped up to take his first kick of the game and nailed it in, making the game 7-0 early in the first quarter. The same intensity was kept on defense for Cooper as defensive ends Mark Fontana and Landon Segara made key tackles to stop Cypress. Cooper’s defensive plays led them to get the ball back at the end of the first quarter with plenty of time to score. Diliello threw a pinpoint play action pass right to receiver Mark Brent, who caught the ball and made the game 14-0 to end the first quarter, solidifying the Cowboy lead.
At the start of the second quarter, both teams played a defensive game, and neither side was able to convert until about six minutes were left in the quarter. Cypress scored their first touchdown of the game with a run, making the game 14-7. The Cowboys responded straight away as Mark Brent picked off a pass and gave the Cowboys another chance to score. The Cowboys ran the ball many times with Arthur Brefil and targeted their receivers, but couldn’t find the endzone as they were stopped on fourth down. Just three plays into Cypress’s drive, what seemed to be a desperate lob throw was picked off once again by Cooper City’s Mark Brent and returned for 15 yards at the end of the quarter. The third quarter produced no plays or touchdowns until the very end, where Cypress converted on a threepoint field goal to make the it 14-10, putting the game into anyone’s reach.
“I felt the game went very well in the beginning,” senior Mark Brent said. “Cypress is a very well coached team and we fought until the very end. Unfortunately, we didn’t have the refs on our side, as they made two incorrect critical calls.”
Midway through the final quarter, Cypress converted on a key fake punt to put them into field position for a touchdown. The Lightning threw up a bomb all the way to the five yard line, in what appeared to be a controversial catch. The Lightning convert on a catch in the end zone, making the game 17-14 -a drastic turn of events.
The Cowboys kept their head up and continued to fight. Making their way all the way down to the 25 yard line, Lucas Gross nailed the three point conversion, once again making the game 17-17. Cypress made their way down the field in what would be the last drive of the game with key passes and runs that put them in position to win the game. On 4th and 12, the Lightning threw up a deep pass that was broken up by safety Josh Koploff but called back by the referee.
Fans and coaches roared at the referee’s call, but the ball was given back to Cypress. A second chance, Lighting quarterback threw up another deep pass that converted into a touchdown and made the game 24-17 with two minutes left. The Cowboys seemed to give it everything they had in the end, with deep throws and solid runs from fullback Jonah Sanchez,but ultimately couldn’t find the endzone.
The game ended Cypress 24 – Cooper 17.
“In order to win a game, we have to finish it,” senior Landon Segarra said.“We have to be able to stay focused and hold our ground. We played well as a team, but [we] also have a lot to work on finishing a full game and not just playing half the game. As the season moves on, I think we’ll be able to play a full game and begin to dominate.”
On Friday, September 1st, the Cowboys headed off to Lakeland to face up against the Dreadnaughts. The matchup was tough for the Cowboys and the Dreadnaughts ended up winning 54-7.
Featured image by Thomas Emoff