The Holy Innocents’ football team scored its biggest regular-season win to date Sept. 20 when it defeated four-time defending Georgia High School Association (GHSA) Class A Private state champion Eagle’s Landing Christian Academy (ELCA) 42-41 in overtime. The Region 5A win for the Golden Bears snapped the Chargers’ 15-game winning streak.
Leading the efforts for Holy Innocents’ was senior running back Michael Cox, who had a game-high 214 rushing yards and four touchdowns on 40 carries.
“It was a wonderful moment for school and we able to break (ELCA’s) winning streak,” Cox said. “It’s a more important win for the school and sets the tempo and mentality of aggression for our football team. It felt good, mainly the aspect of being there for the team. Everyone played their position and (was) able to be reliable for the team.”
Holy Innocents’ trailed 28-14 in the third quarter, but Cox’s three-yard TD run with 10:55 left in regulation tied the score at 28-28. The Golden Bears took a 35-28 lead later in the fourth quarter when Cox found the end zone once again, this time on a 51-yard touchdown run. Cox’s fifth rushing touchdown of the night on Holy Innocents’ first possession of overtime proved to be the game-winner.
“Michael had a great game,” Golden Bears coach Todd Winter said. “He carried the ball with authority.”
Through the first four games of the 2019 campaign, all victories for Holy Innocents’, Cox has rushed for a team-high 636 yards and 11 touchdowns.
“Michael is a workhorse for us and gets those tough yards inside,” Winter said.
Cox has already eclipsed the career rushing yards record for the program with 3,501 with half of the regular season left in his senior campaign. Cox has only fumbled the ball twice in 493 career carries.
“His vision improved from (his) sophomore year while getting bigger, faster and stronger,” Winter said. He does an excellent job with ball security. What makes him great is his leadership on and off the field.”
The Golden Bears have made steady improvements as a program, earning six wins in 2018, the most since 2013. Holy Innocents’ also reached the second round of the GHSA state playoffs for the first time since that same season.
“It shows a different mentality to the program,” Cox said. “We came into this season with a good group of seniors who are experienced and mentoring young kids. Our goal is to win every game and this is a good stepping stone.”
After a huge win over ELCA, Holy Innocents’ looks primed for another postseason appearance.
“(We are) playing it week by week and the team is taking this opportunity to show our maturity,” Cox said. “We acknowledge our accomplishments but we’re focused on the next game. We’ve worked on improving every day and getting better as a team with practice and in the film room.”
Cox, who rushed for a team-high 1,625 yards and 25 touchdowns on 240 carries without a fumble in 2018, is also on the varsity wrestling and track and field teams at Holy Innocents’.
This past summer, he visited New Zealand with the school’s Student Diplomacy program. Cox is also a member of the school’s Global Citizenship and Building Student Unity organizations. He lists algebra as his favorite subject, has a 3.2 grade point average and plans to pursue a career in international commercial real estate.
Michael’s parents are mother Tahirih Varner and father Seven Cox. He is undecided on a collage but has scholarship offers from Dartmouth College, Columbia University, Cornell University and Brown University.
Holy Innocents’ returns to action Oct. 4 in a region home contest against Mount Vernon.