By Gene Phelps / NEMS Daily Journal
Shannon head coach Chad Cook has had better seasons record-wise, but 2010 will go down as one of his better efforts.
He’ll tell you that.
Cook and his Red Raiders staff directed a rebuilt team – one that suffered numerous setbacks, including key injuries and illness – to a 10-4 record and a berth in the 4A state quarterfinals.
“I told my coaches that overall, it was one of the better jobs we’ve done,” said Cook, who has been named the Daily Journal’s 2010 Coach of the Year in high school football. “We had a dang good team last year and made it to the state quarterfinals. We made it just as far this year.”
Shannon, 11-2 a year ago, graduated 15 starters from its 2009 team that lost in the playoffs. Cook and his staff – Buck Buchanan, Mike Hamilton, Boris Ivy, Dusty Kelly, Ketrick Marion, Bo Roberts and John Vaughan – spent the offseason and spring practice looking for the right players to wear the red and black.
“You find the guys you want to build around,” he said.
When practice started in late July, Cook thought they had all the pieces in place. Instead, things started to fall apart … one piece at a time.
“First, I had my fullback move,” he said. “On the third day of practice my tailback (Bodarious Taylor) broke his leg. We had some guys I thought might be ready to play, not be ready.”
The day before a season-opening jamboree against a preseason Top 10 team, Southaven, his quarterback, Legilbert Bogan, suffered a spider bite that sidelined him.
As a result, the Red Raiders suffered on the field.
West Point, the defending 5A state champion and eventual 2010 champion, defeated Shannon 39-14 in the opener. The next week, at home, Memphis East whipped the Red Raiders, 50-22.
“I was breaking down film after the Memphis East game,” Cook said. “I knew we had to do something. We had to scheme a lot more this year. In the past, we just did what we wanted to do.”
Shannon defeated Corinth 27-0 the third week and went on to win six consecutive games before losing to an unbeaten New Albany team, 27-13, Oct. 22.
The keys, Cook said, were many.
“We had struggled defensively with tackling,” he said. “We moved some people around until we got the best 11 on the field.”
Taylor returned from his broken leg to rush for nearly 1,200 yards in eight games. Bogan returned from his spider bite, but then missed three games in the middle of the season with a broken thumb.
As many as three offensive linemen suffered various injuries that caused them to miss games, while a starting defensive lineman missed two games.
“You begin to think, ‘What’s next?”’ Cook said, then laughed. “After the New Albany game, we kind of came together and played pretty well.”
The Red Raiders beat Itawamba AHS to close out the regular season, then defeated Greenwood and Senatobia on back-to-back weeks in the playoffs.
The season ended with a 28-7 loss in the quarterfinals to Noxubee County. The game was close for three quarters.
“Had we played Noxubee the third or fourth game of the season they would have blown us out,” Cook said. “I told my guys, ‘Y’all laid it on the line.
“‘… The way y’all rebounded this season made this one of the better seasons we’ve had.’”
Contact Gene Phelps at 678-1593