Derris Prater is ready to shine.
One year after relying heavily on their receivers to finish the 2013 schedule as the state’s top Class 5A offense, Copperas Cove is starting over, losing its top three receivers from last season.
Although Prater knows replacing the standout senior trio responsible for 73.5 percent of the team’s receiving yards will be difficult, he is eager to create a legacy of his own.
“I want to follow in their footsteps,” the receiver said. “They had a great season. They had some great leaders, and they did everything right. But if we do what they did, then we’ll have a great season, too.”
The Bulldawgs’ receivers get their first opportunity to prove they are capable of filling the void Saturday during the team’s annual intrasquad scrimmage at Bulldawg Stadium.
Although several key receivers, including all-state first-team selection Phillip Baptiste, who produced the best season in program history with 113 receptions for 1,556 yards and 17 touchdowns, graduated, the centerpiece of the offense returns.
Senior quarterback Manny Harris rewrote the school’s record book in his debut season, helping the Bulldawgs average 518.9 yards per game. Individually, in addition to leading the team in rushing, Harris threw for 343.2 yards per game.
Now, with a revamped cast of characters surrounding him, Harris is eager to prove last year was not a fluke.
“The offensive line had a good offseason,” Harris said. “The receivers are looking amazing. We are falling right into place from last year already.”
Copperas Cove will play its lone scrimmage against a different team the following week, traveling to Abilene prior to opening the season at home against A&M Consolidated on Aug. 29.
With the first week of two-a-day practices underway, Prater is seeing everything he expects from an elite receiving corps, but he knows the group still has a long way to go.
“We just want to go out there and polish up everything we’ve been practicing, so we can get ready for Abilene,” he said of Saturday’s scrimmage. “If we just continue to learn, then we will be good.”
Meet the Dawgs
Copperas Cove will host its annual Meet the Bulldawgs Kickoff Classic tonight, beginning at 6 p.m. at Bulldawg Gymnasium.
At 7 p.m., there will be a pep rally with the Pride of Cove Band, cheerleaders and the Copperettes all participating.
Following the pep rally, players and coaches will be available to sign autographs and pose for pictures with fans, who are urged to bring any items they want signed.
The annual Soap, Towel and Shampoo Scrimmage will be held at Bulldawg Stadium on Saturday morning.
The junior varsity team will play first, taking the field at 7 a.m. and will be followed by the varsity at 8:30 a.m. The freshmen will begin playing at 10:30 a.m.
Admission is free, but fans are asked to donate bar soap, shampoo or new towels to be used by the athletic department.
Copperas Cove Quarterback Club memberships and Bulldawg merchandise will also be available.