MADISON, Fla. (WTXL) — The Madison County boys basketball team faces Wildwood Wednesday in the state semifinals. Those from Madison will be cheering for their Cowboys, but they'll also see a familiar face on the Wildwood bench, a face that still means a lot to the community too.
Marcus Hawkins is Madison, Florida born and bred.
"Madison is home and will always be home, and I will always root for Madison against everybody but us," he said.
Us is the Wildwood Wildcats, and on Wednesday, he'll gets back to his roots to face his Alma mater in the Class 1A state semifinals.
"I grew up watching him play basketball, even growing up, after he left, he trained me a couple times," said Madison County head boys basketball coach Allen Demps.
Demps was three years younger than Hawkins when they were students at Madison County High.
"We played basketball in the neighborhood together," said Hawkins.
"You don't want to be friends with someone you're playing, but it's kind of tough growing up together for that long," laughed Demps. "Me being a part of his church. I even cut his grass at his church!"
A pastor, Hawkins still very much ingrained in the community, and they haven't forgotten coach either. Before he coached at Wildwood, Hawkins was the girls basketball coach at Madison County, winning state in 2016.
"It meant a lot," said James Mobley, an assistant coach at Madison County who has known both Hawkins and Demps for over a decade. "Showing that we're a small town, but we have some good competitors. We have some dogs, some hard competitors. It meant a lot to the community."
A community that'll have a lot to cheer for on Wednesday.
"You'll see a mixture of shirts in there," said Demps. "You might see a Madison County on one side, and a Wildwood on the other side."
"If anything, my son, he's made the comment, because he knows how close me and coach Demps are, he said daddy, ain't no friends this week!" laughed Hawkins.
This is the second time Demps and Hawkins have met in Lakeland. The first was in 2019, when Madison County beat Wildwood for the state title. Tip-off for Wednesday's semifinal is at 8:00.