Cougars to relish title game opportunity

Published 12:02 am Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Getting the opportunity to play in a high school football championship game is a rare occurrence for some.

Several Escambia Academy players will be playing in their first and second title game this Friday as the Cougars are playing Autauga Academy in the AISA Class 2A state championship game in Troy.

EA beat Clarke Prep 54-24 in the semifinals last week to garner a berth in the championship, which will be held at Troy University’s Veterans Memorial Stadium.

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For lineman Cameron Armentor, this will be his first time to play in a championship game. Last year at Flomaton, Armentor and the Hurricanes finished in the third round.

“It feels amazing to be able to go to state for the first time,” Armentor said.

Like Armentor, Thomas Knight — a senior lineman — is playing in his first championship game this week.

Knight said the keys to the big game are to play disciplined, and commit no penalties and turnovers.

The last time EA played in a state championship was in 2014 when the Cougars beat Bessemer Academy for the 3A title. During the 2014 season, the Cougars’ only loss was to BA.

Knight said he knows the team is able overcome a regular-season loss to AA and beat the Generals.

In 2014, EA punter and receiver Gary Campbell had to sit out because of a broken wrist.

Having the opportunity to be able to play in this week’s game is a dream come true, he said.

“I think (EA head football) coach (Hugh) Fountain put it pretty well,” Campbell said. “We learned more from them (AA) than they did from us (after the first meeting this year).”

Campbell said the main difference between this year’s team and the 2014 edition is size.

“We are a little bit smaller than we have been in the last few years,” he said. “Now, we’re a little bit closer together. This team is more like a family. It’s more like a brotherhood.”

Going back for another chance to win a state title feels pretty good, EA senior running back Kris Brown said.

“A lot of people can’t say that they’ve been two times,” Brown said. “Under coach Fountain, we can get a win.”

When asked what his mindset is going into the championship, Brown said he’s not taking AA lightly.

“We’ve got to work hard and practice what we need to do to go down there and win,” he said.

Quarterback Kainoa Gumapac, who played on special teams and at wide receiver in 2014, said it’s pretty amazing to be able to go back.

“It’s like the best feeling I’ve ever felt,” Gumapac said. “With it being my senior year, I hope we go out with a bang.”

Gumapac had similar thoughts with Campbell on the make up of this year’s team, adding that both have one thing in common — a brotherhood.

EA senior Paolo Gorme said it feels good to go back because of the hard work the team put in this season.

“After 2014, we looked to repeat again,” Gorme said. “It just feels good to go back and be in Troy at the end of the season.”