Jack Welch knows he will get Ellison’s best shot. He always does.
Despite beating the Eagles eight consecutive times entering tonight’s game at Hood Stadium, Copperas Cove’s head coach does not feel safe. He believes some teams, especially those residing from Killeen Independent School District, circle the Bulldawgs on their schedule.
While Welch owns an impressive career record against KISD schools, he feels the neighboring rivals, including the Eagles, are constantly looking to prove a point against his program.
“I think Ellison is very similar to Killeen, and (everyone) saw what happened to us when we played Killeen,” Welch said, referring to his 47-38 loss to the Kangaroos last month. “Killeen upset us, and I think Ellison considers us their Super Bowl. … Most of the Killeen schools do because we’re here next door to them.”
So far, Copperas Cove is 1-1 against KISD schools, bouncing back from its first loss to Killeen since 1995 to beat Shoemaker 63-41 the following week. Although Ellison has lost 27 games in a row, Welch refuses to overlook the Eagles.
“They’ve got a lot of talent, they’re playing very tenacious football right now, and they’re right on the verge of going over the top,” he said. “We can’t allow this to happen in this ballgame.”
If recent history is any indication, it will not.
Since 2008, the Bulldawgs are 5-0 with only one outcome decided by fewer than 25 points. Copperas Cove (4-3, 2-2 District 8-5A) outscored the Eagles 203-31 in the other four.
With the Bulldawgs already sitting in a precarious position, losing half its district games, another defeat could be disastrous for the program’s chances at a 10th consecutive postseason appearance. On the other hand, Ellison (0-7, 0-4) has virtually nothing to lose coming off its worst loss of the season.
Temple beat the Eagles 63-15 last week, but received a strong showing from Hayward Clay, who caught a pair of touchdowns, including a 51-yarder in the first quarter. It was not enough, though, as Ellison’s offense continues to sputter, producing a mere 243.9 yards per game.
Even enduring heavy rains and slippery conditions, Copperas Cove accounted for 417 total yards during last week’s 41-14 victory against Belton, and the total was more than 100 yards shy of their season average.
“The second half of the Belton game, the rain was coming down, it was cold, and I think both teams were just trying to get out of there with no injuries because the game was pretty much in hand the first half,” Welch said, “but overall I was very well pleased.”
With senior receiver Phillip Baptiste catching four passes for 90 yards and a touchdown and running for another score, the Bulldawgs led 34-7 heading into halftime, which was extended by 30 minutes due to lightning in the area.
Copperas Cove also had a pair of short rushing touchdown runs from Shaq Fluelen and another from quarterback Manny Harris, who was held below 300 passing yards for the first time this season, in the first half.
Defensively, the Bulldawgs recovered a pair of fumbles, intercepted a pass and forced the Tigers to punt three times.
The downside for Welch was the abnormal amount of penalties called during the game. A total of 22 flags were thrown with Copperas Cove receiving 11 penalties for 146 yards.
“The bottom line is we’re using the same (officials) chapter for all our district games,” Welch said. “How can you from one game to the next have that many differences in penalties? Because we’re playing the same way. So, if you’re getting more holding calls in one game than you are in another and you’re using the same chapter, then different people call it different ways.”
Contact Clay Whittington at email@example.com