Cooper, coming off a 2016 season in which it posted an 8-2 record, earned its first win of the 2017 Aug. 31, when the Hawks bested Park Center 39-12 in the season opener.
Cooper scored five touchdowns in the second quarter to take a 33-0 lead into halftime. Cameron King threw for 217 yards and four touchdowns in the game, with Phoenix Sproles, Pedro Amoussou, Dkyzian Clay and Adrian Adams on the receiving end of the touchdown passes.
Cooper also received strong contributions from its defense, as Onte Burns and Nate Hill returned interceptions for touchdowns in the second quarter.
After a slow start, Cooper head coach Willie Howard was pleased with how his team responded in the second quarter.
“There were a couple of calls that didn’t go our way and set our momentum backwards a little bit,” Howard said. “We talk about adversity, and if we make a mistake, a champion isn’t defined by who gets knocked down, but by who gets up the fastest.
“We got up fast and that was important.”
After the disappointing first half, Park Center’s senior captains spoke to the team about staying calm and continuing to play the game the right way. The Pirates responded with two touchdowns in the third quarter, as quarterback Jemal Brown found receiver Levante Parker twice in the end zone on long touchdown passes.
“I told them that we turned the ball over, and when you give them 21 points it can make things tough,” Strong said. “We had a couple of first-time starters, so they need to get used to trusting what we see as coaches and take what the defense gives us.
“They knew it themselves, even when we got down on the sideline, they knew it was our mistakes that were hurting us. We realized that if we cut down on our mistakes then we would get back in the game, and we got back into the game, and that’s a credit to these kids to fight.”
Cooper (1-0) will take on St. Louis Park at 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 8, at Cooper High School, while Park Center (0-1) will take on Richfield at 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 8, at Park Center High School.
Contact Sun Post sports editor Chris Chesky at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at @MNSunSports or @SunSportsChris.