• December 18, 2014

Cove standouts credit linemen for team’s offensive outbursts

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Posted: Friday, October 11, 2013 4:30 am | Updated: 10:25 am, Mon Jul 28, 2014.

Manny Harris is garnering the attention and Phillip Baptiste is posting the touchdowns, but neither believes they deserve any credit.

Copperas Cove’s prolific quarterback-receiver tandem has helped redefine the team’s persona, transforming the historically ground-based offense into a high-flying attack.

Regardless of how the Bulldawgs choose to attack defenses, the team’s standouts continually pass any compliments onto their offensive line.

“They are playing really great,” Baptiste said following Copperas Cove’s 63-41 victory against Shoemaker last Friday. “They came out, made their blocks and let Manny get back to look at the reads and make plays.”

Harris, who topped 300 yards passing for the fifth straight game and accounted for eight touchdowns in the win, agreed.

“I couldn’t do this without my offensive line,” the junior said. “They did a wonderful job, and I’d like to give them all the praise.”

Harris completed 27 of 40 passes for 353 yards and seven touchdowns, while also carrying the ball 14 times for 73 yards and the Bulldawgs’ lone rushing touchdown, while Baptiste hauled in a dozen receptions for 185 yards and four touchdowns to continue the pair’s incredible start to the season.

Both players rank atop District 8-5A’s statistical leaders for their respective positions and both are poised to become the best in program history.

With 1,839 yards through five games, Harris is only 168 yards from breaking Robert Griffin III’s single-season passing record and is rapidly approaching Josh Welch’s career record of 4,397 yards. Baptiste is already situated in third place for most receiving yards in a season with 700 and figures to easily surpass Charles Tillman’s record of 965 yards, and the senior only needs five catches to pass Rashad Hawk for most receptions (50) in a season.

If Copperas Cove continues its rapid-fire pace on offense, the records will fall sooner rather than later.

The Bulldawgs scored eight touchdowns on their first 11 possessions against the Grey Wolves, using a pair of unanswered touchdowns late in the second half followed by a score on their opening drive of the third quarter to blow the game wide open.

With their two losses coming by a combined 12 points, the philosophy has worked to near perfection thus far, but the Bulldawgs are about to receive a significant test as they travel to play defending district champion Midway at Panther Stadium tonight.

Midway is limiting offenses to 172.2 passing yards per game and is only allowing 306.4 total yards. Panthers senior Dustin Vasek has two of his team’s three interceptions.

Offensively, on paper the Panthers sport an extremely similar statistics as the Bulldawgs. Midway quarterback Ben Hicks sits behind Harris in the district passing leaders with 1,534 yards and 17 touchdowns, while the Panthers top two running backs, Xavier Hailey and Eric Clayburn, have 599 yards and five touchdowns between them. Copperas Cove running backs Trent Canion and Vondareaz King have combined to produce 526 yard and four scores.

“I expect a real battle,” Copperas Cove head coach Jack Welch said. “I think it’s going to be a really tough, hard-fought football game, and I think (fans will) see great coaching from both sidelines and great playing from both sidelines. It’s going to be a tremendous ballgame.”

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