By Bill Sorrell
Contributing Writer, B&R
TRENTON — From wheelchair to state championship to Mr. Football, Cooper Baugus has rolled his way into the record books.
A senior quarterback at Peabody High School, Baugus was named the 2A Tennessee Titans Mr. Football on Dec. 2 at Nissan Stadium. He is the first Mr. Football winner in school history.
“It meant the world to me when they called my name,” said Baugus. God has given me the strength to play football and has blessed me with many athletic abilities.”
Last year, Baugus led Peabody to the school’s second state championship. The first was in 2014. He was MVP of the state championship game and was also named first team All-State.
The Golden Tide went 14-1 and this season took a 22-game winning streak into the state championship game against Meigs County Dec. 7. During the season Baugus has passed for 1,557 yards and 23 touchdowns and rushed for 542 yards and 10 touchdowns and was named MVP of Region 7-2A.
Two years ago, his athletic future was uncertain. In 2017, Baugus was in a wheelchair for almost a month after fracturing his hip on the last play of the game in the second game of the season.
Before his junior season in July 2018 he was in a car wreck, hitting his head on a seat and taken to LeBonheur Medical Center for treatment for a concussion and brain bleed. He was cleared to play for the season opener.
“I stuck with God and kept praying that everything would come out good and everything did. We ended up winning a state championship so the year ended up being successful. I thank God for it,” said Baugus.
“My faith has been tested by setbacks. God places tough roads for you for a reason. With that wreck last year I was like, ‘Why Lord, why is this happening?’ I thought my football career was over. It made my bond with Christ even stronger. He has a plan for everybody. Everybody goes through things for a reason. The wreck opened my eyes and shows you anything can end in a blink of an eye.
“Seeing how God and Jesus work in people’s lives, it really shows a lot. I trusted His process. I give all the glory to God.”
A member of First Baptist Church, Trenton, and baptized there at age 7, Baugus says Jesus is his rock.
“He should be for everybody. Without Jesus I wouldn’t be able to do what I can. I couldn’t do anything without God.”
Daily he prays and reads the Bible and clings to his favorite verse, Philippians 4:13. “God stays true to the Word. The Bible is a book of lessons and teaches you faith, how to handle situations, what Jesus went through to forgive us of our sins. He was on this planet for us. The Bible shows how good He was. It has taught me a lot.”
Led to Christ by his parents Jeremy and Gwen Baugus, they also taught him to treat people how he wants to be treated.
“(It) is important to be nice to people,” he said. “It is the kind of reputation you want to have; to say that he is a good Christian.”
Peabody head coach Shane Jacobs, who was Region 7-2A’s Coach of the Year this season, has been a deacon at First Baptist Church, Bradford, five years. Jacobs said that Baugus has a great heart for Christ.
“He is a great representation of our program and anybody that spends time with Cooper can see Christ in him,” he said.
“He has a great Christian family, Cooper has brought an extreme amount of leadership in season and out. Our players rally around him. Cooper is an integral part of a very close-knit group of seniors. He has been the glue that holds that together.”
He expects Baugus to play hard because of who he plays for.
“Cooper does everything as hard as he can and to the best of his ability, in his friendships, in school, football, in his relationships with his coaches and family, Cooper gives 100 percent,” Jacobs said.
“He doesn’t go half speed. That is what Christ calls us to do whether you are playing sports, at your job, being a husband, you are called to do things to the best of your ability.”
Tyler Scott, student minister at First Baptist, Trenton, also volunteers as an assistant offensive line coach at Peabody.
He appreciates Baugus’ involvement in church and calls him an encourager who helps others feel good about themselves.
“The biggest thing Jesus says in Matthew that others will know you by the love you have for them. Cooper really loves others. He is always looking out for teammates, always wants to lift them up,” said Scott. “He is very gifted at football and athletically but he is really about loving others and being there for others. The care he has for his teammates is huge.”
Baugus has grown in his spiritual awareness which is evident by his confidence in Christ and what He can do.
Jason Bowen, pastor of First Baptist Church, said he believes that Baugus “has great leadership potential and I pray that he will use that to honor the Lord the rest of his life.”
Baugus, whose role model is Tim Tebow, observed that “believing in God, in Jesus, in the Bible makes you realize you are here for a purpose. I think everybody should believe in Christ.”
“I love God,” said Baugas. “God has a purpose for everybody. …”
Baugus has had scholarship offers including one from Bethel where his brother Braxton Baugus was quarterback. B&R