Their record indicates mediocrity, but the Bulldawgs are far from ordinary.

A miracle play away from starting the year unbeaten, Copperas Cove looks to earn its first winning record of the season tonight against one of Mexico’s finest football exports in Universidad Autonoma de Nuevo Leon.

Regardless of wins and losses, however, the Bulldawgs have the look of a champion. They have the feel of a team with a mission. Copperas Cove appears determined to exceed expectations.

Don’t be mistaken. The Bulldawgs are far from perfect, and three kickoff returns for touchdowns through two games prove it. The roster is not busting at the seams with talent, but the talent it has is meshing almost seamlessly.

Copperas Cove is not visually intimidating to opponents, but it is dominating on the field, and its power stems from a shared vision.

Despite a junior quarterback taking over behind an entirely refurbished offensive line, no District 8-5A team has produced more total yards (1,245) or more points (111) than the Bulldawgs.

Defensively, after losing five all-district selections, Copperas Cove has recovered more fumbles (4) than anybody in district, while ranking second in interceptions with three in two games.

The statistics speak for themselves, but the team’s aura does not shine through on paper.

For whatever reason, Copperas Cove head coach Jack Welch’s recipe for success appears to be cooking to perfection this season. While talent is always an important ingredient, an infusion of complementary flavors brings life to this dish.

The Bulldawgs’ traditionally run-heavy playbook has opened up for new quarterback Manny Harris, who is thriving in the system thanks to a stable of athletic receivers and an overachieving offensive line. Through the first two games of his debut season as a varsity quarterback, Harris has completed 61 of 91 passes for 853 yards and 10 touchdowns.

Should Harris ever falter, standout running back Vondareaz King, who quietly sits in second place atop the district’s best rushers, is waiting to step in as the offense’s focal point. So far, Harris has successfully shouldered the load, and the team’s stud from last year is content to play a complementary role, losing both yardage and headlines to Harris.

And that perfectly exemplifies the level of cohesion Copperas Cove has.

The trust Welch extended to Harris trickled down into the rest of the offense, breeding a unified faith among the group. It might sound silly and irrelevant, but the small philosophical change has infused the offense with confidence, which, in turn, spread to other phases of the game.

When Copperas Cove fell into a 17-0 hole in the season opener against A&M Consolidated, nobody on the team panicked. The result was a calm comeback followed by a furious fourth quarter. The Bulldawgs eventually snagged the lead, lost it and regained it on Jayson Stanley’s 25-yard field goal with one second remaining.

Moments later, Copperas Cove lost on a highly-publicized kickoff return seen countless times on ESPN and viewed by thousands on the internet.

After the game, though, nobody really cared. Sure, they were upset they lost. Players and coaches were frustrated at their collective lack of tackling on the final play, but nobody was fazed by the outcome.

It was simply time to get back to business, and the Bulldawgs responded by scoring 70 points in a 46-point blowout that easily could have be as lopsided as 60 points had they not give up two kickoff returns for touchdowns. The defense that was gashed for 461 total yards in the opener allowed a mere 252 last week.

But the Bulldawgs aren’t perfect. In fact, they are far from it, but sometimes the best teams are not the most talented; rather, they are flawed and just don’t care.

Collectively, Copperas Cove looks like a team focused on being the best it can possibly be and is prepared to accept whatever happens along the way.

In today’s game, that level of belief is far from ordinary.

Contact Clay Whittington at

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