Ridaught: It’s all about family at Hawthorne

Hawthorne team picture with championship trophy following the 13-2 win over Northview on Saturday.
Hawthorne team picture with championship trophy following the 13-2 win over Northview on Saturday.
Photo by C.J. Gish

Two years ago, I wrote that it’s a family atmosphere at Hawthorne

Hornets’ football coach Cornelius Ingram, who is the school’s girls basketball coach, is the younger brother of boys basketball coach Greg Bowie, who is the offensive coordinator for the Hawthorne football team. 

On Saturday night, the siblings won the program’s first state title following Hawthorne’s 13-2 victory against Northview (Bratt) in the FHSAA Class 1R state championship game at Gene Cox Stadium in Tallahassee.

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“This is special,” Bowie said. “To win a state title with my brother is one of the best feelings ever. We’re blessed. Who would’ve thought growing up and playing football in the yard would turn into this? We’re each other’s biggest critics but also each other’s biggest supporters. It’s tough to win a state title in one sport but they each had their own basketball state title in the same year (2020 boys and girls basketball).” 

Now they’ve won a football state title together. 

“I’m not sure how many coaches have won titles in multiple sports so this has to rank up there,” Bowie said. “My brother is a special guy. He’s transparent, unselfish and has a big heart. There are a lot of things that he does behind the scenes and I firmly believe that’s why he’s blessed.” 

That relationship is far-reaching. 

“Our student-athletes see the bond that me and my brother have along with the rest of the coaches and they emulate it,” Bowie said. “We’re a family.” 

Defensive coordinator and Athletics Director Dustin Adkins was on the same high school football team at Hawthorne as Ingram in the early to mid-2000s. So their relationship goes back many years. 

After back-to-back state runner-up finishes, they completed the task. 

“When we won on Saturday it was definitely a surreal moment,” Adkins said. “Having been the previous two years and not quite finishing was not easy, but Saturday washed a little bit of that taste out of our mouths. Being a state champion is something that will not be forgotten and will be stamped in the history books. Just very proud of all our players and coaches in the work we put in throughout the year to accomplish this feat.” 

Adkins, who played center for the Hornets, graduated from Hawthorne in 2005. CI graduated in 2004, so Ingram was Adkins’ quarterback for the majority of his high school playing career. 

“Him being the QB and me being his center just further blossomed our relationship,” Adkins said. “I used to pick him up for school when we were in high school and our bond grew from playing together at Hawthorne. Even when we were playing at different colleges and began our coaching careers separately, we always remained in touch and talked about getting together and trying to accomplish history.”

Mission accomplished. 

Hawthorne coaches celebrate with the state championship trophy on Saturday.
Photo by C.J. Gish Hawthorne coaches celebrate with the state championship trophy on Saturday.

“As much as we would like to take the credit as coaches, I have to give the credit to the players for their performance on Saturday night,” Adkins said. “They had a great week of practice and towards the end of the week they were calling out the plays and anticipating what was coming during our practice sessions.” 

They must have known what Northview was calling too. 

Chiefs’ running back Jamarkus Jefferson, who had rushed for 2,345 yards and 41 touchdowns, was limited to just 35 yards on 14 carries. 

“They fully trusted the game plan and took on the task of being physical and containing No. 6 (Jefferson) for Northview,” Adkins said. “We were confident that if we could stop the run and force them to try and throw the football then we would be in a good position to win the game. We were able to do that and the rest is history.” 

But the offense did their part too by scoring on the opening drive, which would be the only points the Hornets (12-0) would need. 

“We knew we had to strike first because it would set the tone,” Bowie said. “We gave them some different formations including the Wildcat. Three to four different guys touched the ball.” 

The Hornets went 64 yards on nine plays and capped the scoring drive with a 5-yard run by senior Brian James with 8:05 to play in the first quarter. 

A championship defense and an offense that eats the clock have been the Hornets’ forte all season. 

“We played a ball control offense all year,” Bowie said. “We take pride in 6-8 minute drives and keeping the other team’s offense on the sideline. Our goal is to never put our defense in a bad position. While most teams want to be cute on offense we play smash mouth football and force you to tackle us for four quarters. After our veteran O-Line lay on defenders early in the game the holes start opening in the second half.” 

All for one and one for all. 

They did it as a team, a family. 

Ingram mentioned several times that Hawthorne is “a special place.” 

“There are some personal things that have gone on with our team, parents passing away, never missed practice, guys getting in car accidents. I have my notes in my phone because I went from June up until today (Saturday) of all the adversity, and all the kids wanted to do was be around each other.” 

Now that’s family. 

“I know every football team considers itself ‘family,’ but this team truly is a family,” Adkins said. “We communicate all the time, inside and outside of work. We have had adversities throughout this year where we had to lean on teammates and coaches, and every time the family atmosphere and support that was offered let me know that this would be a special group.” 

A very special bond of coaches, players, and families who helped the orange and black achieve their dreams. 

“It truly is an entire family atmosphere, and having the players witness that firsthand definitely helps for them to understand the fellowship and importance we place on creating a bond each and every year for our program,” Adkins said. “There is a reason student-athletes try and come back to as many football games as possible when they graduate because once a Hornet always a Hornet. And we truly mean that.” 

The roots run deep in Hawthorne.

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Heart of a Hornet🧡🖤🧡🖤
Thank you Mr. Ridaught for your continued coverage of my Hornet Nation.
Typo CI graduated in 2004