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For the first time in a very long time, the Coffee Trojans are ranked #1 in the state in their classification (5A).
The Trojans have been atop the rankings at least once before — way back in 1976. That season, Coffee finished the year with a perfect 10-0 record and met up with the Ware County Gators in the region playoffs.
Earlier in the season, Coffee had defeated Ware 40-6 at Jardine Stadium. The two teams met once again in Douglas and this time, the Gators shocked the heavily favored Trojans by winning 21-20 and winning the region championship. Ware then beat Dodge County 21-0 before losing the following week to Woodward Academy 17-0.
Many Trojan fans of a certain age remember that season well. It was a sore spot then and it remains a sore spot to this day. Since 1976, Coffee has had some good seasons — along with a few excellent years scattered about. There is an excitement around this team that Trojan fans haven’t experienced in several years.
And one of the reasons Coffee is back on top has to do with the Ware County Gators. Ware had been sitting at number one for most of the season. But the Gators have lost their last two games in a row, both times to 4A teams — Benedictine (31-24) and Bainbridge (35-21). Over that same span, Coffee has won twice and outscored their opponents 79-0.
During the Chik fil A Coach’s Show Monday night, which was streamed live on the DouglasNow YouTube channel, head coach Mike Coe said the team’s success begins with the defense. “I’ll start with our defense. Coach Granato and his staff on the defensive side do a tremendous job of preparing those guys and preparing their eyes and seeing the other team’s best stuff. Our number one goal every week is to take away their best player or players, or their best plays, and make them do something else or make somebody else beat us,” said Coach Coe. He added that the last two weeks, neither Salem nor Richmond Hill crossed the 50 yard line.
If the #1 ranking is a throwback to the mid-1970s, this year’s defense is reminiscent of the 2002 unit that led the Trojans to a 7-3-1 record and a region title. That year’s defense was one of the most prolific scoring defenses in Coffee history. That team also left Trojan fans with some of the program’s biggest moments, not the least of which was the famous fumblerooski play that stuck a dagger in Valdosta’s heart.
The 2023 version of the Trojans has already created a significant buzz this season. But the year is only halfway over. The region schedule begins in two weeks and the Trojans will have four weeks until they travel to Waycross for a shot at Ware County.
Ascending to the top of the 5A rankings is another step in what is turning into an exciting season. It means people around the state are noticing what Coffee fans have been seeing all year long. And at the moment, there is no better 5A team in the state.
That’s a very good feeling.
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