Peabody Golden Tide senior quarterback Cooper Baugus has experienced both ends of the football spectrum.
During three seasons as Peabody’s starting quarterback, Baugus has endured the uncertainty of a career threatening injury during his junior season all the way to earning the Tennessee Secondary Schools Athletic Association’s Tennessee Titans Class 2A Mr. Football Award presented last week at Nissan Stadium in Nashville. The Tennessee Titans of the National Football League hosted the banquet and sponsored the awards
Baugus (6’0” and 170 pounds) won the Class 2A Award against Aaron Swafford of Meigs County and Terry Wilkins of Memphis Fairley. Peabody defeated Fairley 29-28 in overtime in the state quarterfinals and was bracketed to play Meigs County in the state championship game.
Asked what it means to win the prestigious Mr. Football Award, Baugus responded, “It means a lot. I am very blessed to win Mr. Football. Without my teammates and coaches and all the good players surrounding me, I would not look as good and I would not put up the numbers that I have achieved. I am thankful for them.”
At an early age, Baugus developed a love for sports, especially the game of football “I come from an athletic family and this just helps me in sports. My love for football started when I was younger. I fell in love with the sport because my brothers played football and I learned from them. It led me looking up to Braxton and Hayden as football players, and it helped shape me. My older brothers kind of beat me up and made me tougher,” admitted Baugus. Cooper is the son of Jeremy and Gwen Baugus.
His oldest brother Braxton was a multi-year starter as Peabody’s quarterback. After a highly successful career at PHS, he went on to play collegiately at Bethel University in McKenzie. “Braxton taught me a lot from his quarterback ability, his leadership and his work ethic. I try to imitate him and be like him,” acknowledged Cooper.
Asked if he felt any pressure to carry on the Baugus football legacy. He replied, “No, I love pressure. I feel a little bit of pressure, but I love it and I live for it.”
Baugus has experienced a roller coaster ride of highs and lows in the sport. After showing promise as a freshman and experiencing a winning season as a sophomore starter at quarterback, Baugus sustained a head injury in a preseason automobile accident that placed his career in jeopardy.
Cleared for participation during his junior season, Baugus quarterbacked Peabody to a 14-1 record, including the program’s second state championship and was named Most Valuable Player in the Class 2A title game.
Explaining how he coped with the uncertainty of his prep playing career, he informed, “I just trusted God and went with His plan. Now, here we are Mr. Football, a one-time state champion and looking forward to repeating it.”
Baugus is quick to credit his teammates, especially his senior classmates, for both team and individual success. He admits that his role is to Put the Peabody offense in successful play situations and distribute the ball to his playmaking teammates.
“Everybody steps up in the situations they need to in order to make plays. Everybody contributes. We have a very good senior class and I am very thankful for them. We are blessed to have athletes who can make plays. Noah (Halbrook), Eli (Hammonds), Jarel (Dickson) and Bryce (Franks) are all big-time players and our offensive linemen and defensive players, like Logan (Whittemore), just help out the football team by providing senior leadership,” he acknowledged.
Asked, if he had a preference of scoring a running or passing touchdown, he informed, “Either one. I don’t care as long as it puts us in a winning situation.”
Blessed with the arm strength to make all of the throws on a football field, Baugus confesses that his favorite pass in a go-to situation is the post route. “I just like throwing the post route. I have receivers, who can run under it and catch the ball. I put it wherever I want to and just trust them to get underneath it and catch it,” revealed Baugus.
He continued, “Believe it or not, the most difficult throw for me is the screen pass, because I have to get the ball out quick. I don’t have time to get the laces. It is hard to stay fundamental, when I am trying to get the ball out so fast and that is why the screen pass is the hardest throw for me.”