Cooper brothers lead Bearcat charge

Published 4:42 pm Thursday, October 10, 2013

The stands erupt as the ball lands in his hands. He tucks it under his arm and kicks his legs into second gear, outrunning Thomas County Central’s defenders. Finally, Greg Cooper crosses into the end zone after a 90-yard pass play that put the score at 10-0 last Friday night.

Thirteen minutes later his brother Craig catches a screen pass. He spots one of his linemen cleaning up a defender and looks at the end zone 80 yards down the field. He only has one thought: run, run until my legs give out. The score bumps to 17-0.

Craig and Greg Cooper combined for 284 total yards last Friday night, making plays that put the crowd on their feet and points on the board.

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For as long as they can remember, the brothers wanted to play for the Bearcats.

“It all started with our uncles in the backyard,” said Greg. “They would always say to keep working hard and make progress through the whole season.”

When they joined little league football at 5-years-old, they fell in love with the feeling they would get on the field. Always playing in the running back and wide receiver positions, the Cooper boys knew early on what kind of players they wanted to be.

“We used to go to the high school games when we were little and see players like Mark Brown,” said Craig. “I just remember thinking I want to be like them when I get to play for the Bearcats.”

As they grew with the game, their mother Grace always did her best to keep their feet on the ground. She wanted them to succeed with the sport, but also to remember the bigger picture.

“I’m very proud of them,” said Grace. “But the only thing I want them to do is stay humble. Stay before the lord and even though we’re playing football we have to honor him in everything. I want them to do their schoolwork and make good grades, and if they stay humble, God will elevate them to the next step.”

Their mother’s words are important to the brothers, who put a huge value on family. With their father often missing games working Friday nights as a mechanic in Colquitt, Craig and Greg are role models for their younger brothers and sisters who want to be athletes themselves.

“They always want us to bring our jerseys home so they can wear it they’re football practice,” said Craig.

Now that the season is at the halfway point, the senior brothers are in full focus-mode, playing each game to win and hoping to catch the eyes of college football scouts, particularly from their favorite school, The University of Florida.

For extra practice and conditioning, they’ll hop the fence of Centennial Field on the weekend nights and run goal post to goal post. It’ll be 11 p.m. when everyone is asleep, but Craig and Greg are running sprints, getting better.

But with as much intensity and concentration they bring to playing the sport, they bring and equal amount of fun.

“We just like to joke on each other and stuff before a game,” said Craig. “We like to make bets that one of us will get more yards or have more plays than the other.”

So far, up to $20 has been on the line. But the brotherly competition only makes their bond stronger.

“We’ve got a saying,” said Greg. “I got you, you got me. If you’re down I’m helping you and if I’m down I want you helping me.”

This Friday against Harris, the brothers look forward to a good game and a victory.

“We’re going to come out and do it right,” said Greg. “Hit them in the mouth early.”