It was a long season for Hawthorne. Injuries plagued them all year, forcing many bench players to step up in place. Star players such as defensive end Jailen Ruth and quarterback CJ Ingram went down and forced the team’s mentality and strategies to switch in order to survive. The rushing attack seemed to be a significant factor in their hard-fought success this season, with the running back pairing of Isaiah Donaldson and Keenon Johnson taking up much of the offensive burden. Even when Ingram was out or limited, these guys were able to propel Hawthorne’s offense to a sizable lead almost every game.
The Big Game
The Hornets tore through their competition leading up to the championship game, but Northview was sure to contest them for the title. It was a defensive battle throughout; only 2 combined touchdowns. Northview’s offense could not seem to penetrate the wall of Hawthorne’s defensive line. The Hornets allowed no points, Northview salvaging two points only from a safety. These efforts allowed for Hawthorne’s early touchdown to lead them to victory. It was a war for the rest of the game, ending in a 13-2 win for the Hornets.
A Long Time Coming
The Hornets have had their sights on a state championship for a while now. The last two seasons ended in a championship loss, leaving a bitter taste in the Hornets’ mouths. Coach Cornelius Ingram knew that he could use these struggles to fuel Hawthorne’s success.
The one major difference between the previous years and this one was the quarterback position. Sophomore CJ Ingram started this season for the Hornets. Although it isn’t common for an underclassman to prove successful at the helm, his team’s support in him allowed CJ to play at a high level all season. According to Ainslee Lee of the Gainesville Sun CJ said,
“At the beginning of the season, nobody believed in me. But he did.”
This win marked the first state championship in school history for the Hornets, and it was fully deserved. After a fantastic season and a young leader, it seems that the Hornets’ future is looking bright.