January 27, 2023
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Friday’s playoff win over Ropes was the cherry on top to complete the turnaround of Sudan’s football program.  

Coming off of a 2-8 campaign the year before, each member of the coaching staff and returning varsity felt they had something to prove. Coming into the season, head coach John Cornelius spoke with his team on what it would take to become the team they are now.  

“We told them we have to do the little things right. We worked hard in the offseason and knew if we did what we are supposed to, we could get this program back to the way it was a few years ago,” Cornelius said. 

This season’s success is easy to see watching the Hornets play. After an early gut-punch loss to Olton, Sudan did not look back. They won eight consecutive games to flip their record from last season to 8-1. All but one of those wins was over double digits.  

The work was not complete, however, as they fell in their final district matchup against Ralls to share the district championship.  

For quarterback junior Trent Wilson, the win Friday was redemption for that loss.  

“Earning the gold ball feels amazing. We didn’t get to do it last week (against Ralls) but it feels great now,” Wilson said. 

Friday night was a complete effort for the Hornets. Defensively, Sudan was stout on the ground and through the air. Two fumble recoveries by the defense (one recovered 40-yards for a score) fired up the Sudan sidelines and gave the momentum they needed to cruise their way to the win. Junior Jaden Conely led the way defensively with 11 total tackles and a fumble recovery he ran back 40-yards for Sudan’s opening points. Matthew Lopez was a menace in the backfield as well, recording two sacks and three tackles for loss in the contest.  

“Our defense held strong whenever we needed to,” Wilson said. “This game was definitely hard-fought and I’m glad we were able to come out with the win.”  

Offensively, Sudan did what they have done all year – controlled the tempo with an efficient run game behind Wilson and senior running back Josue Cervera. Cervera led the Hornets with 92 yards rushing, including a 50-yard breakaway score to break open the Sudan lead to 22-6 before halftime. Wilson was not far behind, rushing for 62 yards in the contest. A new wrinkle in the ground game was sophomore Joel Williams filling in for Marcello King who injured his knee early in the second quarter. He bulldozed his way through Ropes defenders for two rushing scores.  

The Hornets did mix up the scheme as well, throwing in play-action throughout the game to much success. Wilson completed five passes for 180 yards and two touchdowns.  

Once the final horn sounded on the 43-12 win, the emotions came out as players jumped up and down the sidelines, celebrating their Bi-District Championship. Coach Cornelius described the moment as, “A big step for our program. It’s been three years since we have won a playoff game so I’m just real proud of the guys.” 

Ma'Rico Holland

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