Concordia Cowboys win Tri-State championship

Published 11:49 pm Tuesday, November 24, 2009

VIDALIA — When Concordia Cowboys head coach Lee Ford took his team to see “The Blind Side” last Friday in Monroe, La, he didn’t know it would be the best coaching move of the weekend.

The Cowboys were set to begin play the next morning in the Tri-State Championship tournament at the University of Louisiana-Monroe. Ford wanted to treat his team to a movie in order to help them fully enjoy the road trip, but the results of watching the movie about football star Michael Oher were even better than what he hoped.

“They really enjoyed the movie,” Ford said. “It pumped them up. They came out fired up Saturday.”

Email newsletter signup

The Cowboys would go on to win all four games they played in the tournament — two Saturday and two Sunday — and nabbed the Tri-State championship.

The Cowboys, which features players between 10 and 12 years of age, had to win a hard-fought game against the Cabot Panthers from Little Rock, Ark., in order to clinch the championship, Ford said.

“When the game started out, we were shocked at how big these kids (on the Panthers’ team) were,” Ford said. “They were bigger than we were and were very fundamentally sound.

“We started the game with a 4-3 defense in the first half, but they blew us off the ball, so we had to change it to a 5-2 defense in the second half.”

The Cowboys didn’t score in the first half and gave up a touchdown to the Panthers, putting them behind 7-0 at halftime.

“We scored a touchdown in the third quarter,” Ford said. “The way it works in this tournament is, you have to throw a pass on the point after try in order to get two points. If you just kick it or run it, you only get one point. We went for the pass and missed it.”

That put the Cowboys behind 7-6 at the end of the third. Ford said he started to get nervous the closer it got to the end of regulation.

“I was scared to death,” Ford said. “Trey Hall caught a long pass from Nicholas Brown. He broke the plane, which won the game for us.

“It was off the chain. It was a really good, hard-fought game.”

The final score ended up being 12-7, and Ford said he plans to honor his team at a banquet Friday at Ryan’s.

“We’ll be handing out trophies and medals that say ‘Tri-State Champions’ on them. This was our first year doing the travel thing, and it was really successful.”

Sunday morning, in the game before the championship matchup, the Cowboys defeated the Holy Ridge Eagles from South Louisiana. They also defeated the Mangham Dragons and Heart of Hope Broncos Saturday.

Ford said he thinks his young players feed off the approach he takes in coaching them.

“I want to treat them like real athletes,” Ford said. “Most kids in our area don’t really see the full scope of the game until the ninth grade, so I try to teach them straight, hard-nosed football to help prepare them. Now when these kids get to high school, they’ll be ready to play.”