Joyce - Johnson

FILE — Cosby’s Nate Joyce (left) and Kaden Johnson (right) combine to make a tackle in the Eagles’ week 10 matchup at home against Sale Creek.

In high school football, playing the last game of the season is hard.

Playing as a senior and sporting the blue and white for the last four years makes this Thursday night’s game against Hancock County even more special.

“Our seniors definitely will have some stories to tell about how different their last couple seasons were,” Cosby head coach Kevin Hall said. “With the change in classification and two seasons both impacted by COVID, these guys have been through a lot.”

A season full of highs and lows will come to a halt after Thursday night, as the Cosby Eagles will face the Hancock County Indians.

The Cosby-HCHS series has always brought great moments on the football field.

Cosby holds a 9-2 record over the Indians since 2009. Most notably, Cosby’s overtime win in 2019. A 38-yard touchdown from former Cosby quarterback Hunter Workman to current senior Dominic Cowles sent both teams into overtime with the score being tied at 20.

Former running back, Caleb Lawson punched in a touchdown in overtime and came up with a big game-ending sack to put away the Indians, 26-20.

This Thursday night’s ball game will have a different type of feel compared to the others.

Hancock County has not had a varsity football team in 2021. The program has only played a handful junior varsity games this season, as it looks to rebuild and get back to full strength by the start of the 2023 season.

Hall and the coaching staff wanted to give the seniors one last senior night under the lights at Virgil Ball Stadium, while also giving their longtime rivals another chance to take the field as they work back toward normalcy.

“We needed another home game,” Hall said. “Hancock County needed some Friday night varsity type experience so we agreed to a varsity exhibition type game. Last week was Homecoming so the coaches wanted to give these seniors one last game at home.”

Seniors Dominic Cowles and Keenan Ellison have been the sound leaders of the defense in their final season as a Cosby Eagle. Thursday is a chance to give players like the two a proper sendoff from The Hill.

“We said in the beginning of the year, Keenan (Ellison) and Dominic (Cowles) were going to be those guys to lead this young defense,” Hall said. “They took that leadership role and helped develop some of these guys. I couldn’t be anymore proud of them.”

Braydon Hall has had a quiet senior season, as well. He had one interception, one recovered fumble, and 10 tackles in his final campaign.

Kevin Hall and his staff have seen improvements from week one to the final week of the season. Closing out strong on Thursday will be important to carry momentum into the offseason.

“Our speed and athleticism has stood out on both sides of the ball this year,” Hall said. “We have been in almost every game this year and that has been what’s kept us in it. Hopefully our young guys will decide they want to work hard and come back better and with a years experience under their belt.”

Slate Shropshire, Hayden Green, Nate Joyce, and Devonte Wigfall have all made an impact on both sides of the ball this season.

Shropshire has atoned for more than 50 solo tackles this year on defense. He’s also rushed for 50 yards and three scores on offense.

Wigfall had two interceptions in the last two outings for the Eagles. He also has caught five passes for 97 yards and thrown a 65-yard touchdown pass against North Greene.

Green has done work on both sides of the ball. He had an interception earlier in the year and has emerged as the leading receiver with five touchdowns and 431 yards.

Joyce has emerged as a top running back for Cosby. He’s ran for 109 yards and a score this season.

Their progression has been key for the Eagles this year, but will be imperative to the future success of the program beginning in 2022.

“We have grown so much through this whole season. Even though our record may not show it,” assistant head coach Spencer Holt said. “There are things that we can adjust to and execute now that we were not able to early in the year.

“We still aren’t where we want to be, but hopefully these younger guys will continue to stick with it and I think that they could have a lot of success in the future.”

Cosby’s final game of 2021 will be on Thursday night as the Indians visit Virgil Ball Stadium at 6 p.m. The game will be live on WLIK (97.9 FM/1270 AM).

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