Copperas Cove was struggling, and Manny Harris did not care.
At Belton’s third annual Lone Star Shootout 7-on-7 football tournament last weekend, the Bulldawgs’ opening-day start was shaky. During pool play, Copperas Cove won only three of its six games, making it a No. 3 seed entering Saturday’s championship bracket.
The Bulldawgs’ senior quarterback was not concerned, though.
“It didn’t matter how we did in pool play,” Harris recalled, “because we were going to beat every team when it mattered. I knew that was what we were going to do.”
He was right.
The Bulldawgs did not lose again, finishing the tournament with five consecutive wins, culminating with a 28-14 victory against Georgetown in the championship.
After playing without several key pieces defensively and missing some receivers on the first day of the tournament, Copperas Cove came back at full strength and everything changed.
“We bounced back,” Harris said. “We were playing all-around, great team ball, and we just played great. More importantly, we wanted it.”
Copperas Cove beat its opening-round opponent easily — defeating Scurry Rosser 32-7 — before recording another double-digit victory against China Spring, 28-14.
Then, the runaway victories ended.
The Bulldawgs overcame a pair of close contests to reach the title game, beating Elgin 56-51 and Georgetown 48-44 to set up a final showdown with the Eagles, who earned a rematch by defeating loser’s-bracket winner Leander Vandegrift.
Georgetown was unable to slow down the Bulldawgs, though, losing 28-14.
Copperas Cove finished the 14-team tournament with an 8-2-1 record, and Harris was named tournament MVP, while teammate Davonn Hopkins-Phelps received the offensive MVP award. Additionally, teammate Shamad Lomax was placed on the defensive all-tournament team.
For Harris, he was simply doing his job.
“I just tried to put my team in the best situation possible,” he said, “and made sure I was being a leader out there by motivating the guys to just keep doing it and keep the motor running.”
Harris said he knows he could not have done it without his teammates.
“Davonn is a big target for me,” Harris said. “He is a big, physical guy, and he’s going to get a lot of catches next year. He’s my comfort blanket. … Our defensive backs are playing great, and our linebackers are playing physical. They are just playing good, team ball, and they are buying in for each other.”
The winning streak ended during the Bulldawgs’ weekly trip to Belton for 7-on-7 league play Monday. Copperas Cove beat the Tigers 21-20 to begin the evening, but then lost to Cameron Yoe 27-21 and Temple 41-20.
The Bulldawgs play next at the Westlake State Qualifying Tournament, beginning at 9 a.m. Saturday, before traveling to Temple on Monday for league play at 5:30 p.m.
Having already secured a spot at the 2014 Texas State 7-on-7 Championship at College Station next month, Harris believes the future is looking bright for the Bulldawgs.
“We think we are going to be a great team next year,” he said. “We can feel it already by all the winning we are doing in 7-on-7 and how our defense is playing right now. It is so much better than it was at this time last year, and we are just an all-around good team right now.”