Bowling Green jumped out to a 14-0 lead Saturday night and didn’t look back, as they cruised past Cooper 28-14 to earn their first Class 5A State Championship victory since 2020.
With the win, head coach Mark Spader earns his second State Championship victory as head coach of the Purples. In total, Saturday night marked Bowling Green’s eighth ever state title. Spader, who is a fiery personality, was fired up about the win after the game.
“What a night!” Spader exclaimed. He continued, saying “There was a lot of adversity for us tonight. Look at the weather [pouring rain]. It was not our finest performance. But if you followed us this season, we’ve been resilient every game. As explosive as our offense was this season, it was fantastic to see our defensive unit to get after it here on the biggest stage. They basically won it for us in the end.”
Saturday night marked a role reversal for the Fighting Purples, as the offense struggled and the defense really stepped up. If you flashback to Bowling Green’s first three games of the season (LCA, Owensboro, Bryan Station), the Purples defense gave up an average of 516 yards per game. Against Cooper however, BG gave up just 193 yards to a Jaguar team that entered Saturday night averaging 337 yards per game.
“I’m really proud of our team, which was really disrespected at the beginning of the year. But they continued to work and that’s high school football. That’s why I love it so much.”
Bowling Green junior quarterback Deuce Bailey was awarded the Mingua Beef Jerky MVP award presented by Morgan & Morgan. The scrambling superstar completed 16-28 passes for 199 yards and three touchdowns. Bailey ran for 70 yards as well. He found three different receivers through the air for a score, with sophomore receiver Trevy Barber leading the way with seven receptions for 114 yards and a touchdown.
“We had to get our bad taste out of our mouth from last year,” Bailey said after the game. “We had a feeling burning up in us. I think our guys really took that into consideration and got after it.” Bowling Green fell to Frederick Douglass in last season’s 5A title game.
Randy Borcher’s Cooper Jaguars came up just short, but what a season it was for them. Just a season removed from finishing 6-5, the Jaguars won 12 games and made just their second ever appearance in a State Championship game Saturday night.
Sophomore quarterback Cam O’Hara impressed in the loss, completing 22-47 passes for 220 yards and two touchdowns. On both touchdown passes, O’Hara scrambled, set his feet, and found Isaiah Johnson and Austin Alexander for Cooper’s two scores. The sophomore slinger is poised for a huge junior season next year, as he passed for 3,361 yards and 47 touchdowns in 2023.
“We knew coming into this game that we would have to play very well and make some plays,” Borchers said following the loss. We had two costly turnovers early in the game that took momentum away from us and we had to play from behind and just couldn’t get over the hump.”
Cooper muffed two punts (Bowling Green recovered both) and converted just three of their 16 third down tries. They were 3-8 on fourth down conversions.
After a three year hiatus, the Bowling Green Purples are back on top in Class 5A.