Cornelius Ingram was a 2-sport star at Hawthorne High School. He was highly recruited coming out of high school and chose to play at the University of Florida, where he played football and basketball.
Ingram won two SEC football titles and two football national championships with the Gators. However, after he was drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles, injuries ended his playing career.
“I was thinking about leaving school early to pursue my NFL career, but I tore my ACL my senior year,” Ingram said. “Then I injured myself again my rookie year with the Eagles.”
Ingram tried to work through his injuries but couldn’t get healthy, so he “ended up back home and started my coaching career.”
This is his sixth year coaching the Hornets’ football team and his fourth-year coaching girls basketball, which won the school’s first state title in the sport back in February.
Hawthorne football has improved every year under Ingram.
The Hornets went from 5-5 in year one to 6-3 in year two and 7-2 in 2017.
But it was in 2018 that Hawthorne finally broke through, carrying a 12-0 record into a state semifinal game at Madison County with a spot in the state championship game on the line.
Despite the 24-0 loss at Boot Hill two years ago, Ingram and the Hornets were on the doorstep.
This year, they finally broke through.
The Hornets knocked off the 3-time defending state champion Cowboys, 18-14, in the Class 1A state semifinals on Friday, Dec. 4, to advance to their first football state championship game in school history.
“We preached all week to take the name off of the jersey,” said co-defensive coordinator Cedderick Daniels. “They are the top dog of 1A high school football.”
Ingram said “in order to be the best, you have to beat the best.” He also called it “the biggest football game in Hawthorne football history.”
Well, that may have changed considering what is at stake this week.
Up next, the Baker Gators in Thursday night’s Class 1A state championship game at Doak Campbell Stadium in Tallahassee. The Gators are 14-0 on the season, and coming off a 41-7 win over Sneads in the state semifinals.
“We’re excited,” Ingram said about his team. “For it to be our first in a state championship for our football program, and school, it’s a big accomplishment. It’s just a fun time to be a Hornet.”
Especially when you’re an alum.
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