Killeen killed the streak, but the Kangaroos might have also finally given birth to rivalry.
After dominating the series for 17 years and winning 11 consecutive games against its longtime foe, Copperas Cove suffered a stunning defeat last week at Hood Stadium, where Killeen erased more than a decade of frustration with a 47-38 upset win.
It was the moment the Killeen faithful had been waiting for and Copperas Cove fans were dreading.
Regardless of who fans were rooting for, though, there is no doubt Killeen’s win was much needed and not because it entered the game 0-3.
Since 1995, Copperas Cove has imposed its will on the Kangaroos. The outcomes were not always lopsided on the scoreboard, but the Bulldawgs’ supremacy was clearly evident in the record books.
But the neighboring communities deserve more, and head coach Sam Jones, running back Daniel McCants and the rest of the Kangaroos roster might have just given the passionate fan bases something to look forward to — a rivalry.
Despite being two storied programs with an intense, but respectful, dislike of one another, Copperas Cove and Killeen have never been true rivals.
Sure, everybody looks forward to the games, and hopefully all the players appreciate the rich history of competition between the schools, but there is no such thing as a one-sided rivalry.
Historically, the Kangaroos hold a slight edge in the all-time series with a record of 18-13-1 against Copperas Cove, but both the wins and losses came in extreme runs. Killeen emerged victorious in 16 of the first 19 meetings before longtime Bulldawgs’ head coach Jack Welch engineered an 11-game win streak against the Kangaroos.
While the feast-or-famine dynamic creates contempt, it does nothing to breed a true rivalry. Both teams involved need to experience the highs and the lows. Both need to feel agony and elation. Both need to spend months brooding after a defeat and long for an opportunity for revenge.
For all the hoopla surrounding the games between Copperas Cove and Killeen, the element of uncertainty has never been there.
Now, perhaps it is.
As a program, following five consecutive losses by 20 points or more, Killeen finally has some swagger in the series. Copperas Cove, on the other hand, has finally been humbled.
All allegiances aside, in the bigger picture, the Bulldawgs’ losing was the best thing that could have happened. I’m sure there are plenty of Copperas Cove fans who disagree, but repeated domination by one team is boring.
Nobody wants to walk out on the field or sit in the stands knowing the outcome before the opening kickoff. The beauty of sports is its unpredictability, and this series has never really had that.
Hopefully, last Friday’s game changed things, but we will not know for sure for several years.
It is possible Killeen’s victory was a fluke, and it is also completely conceivable it was an omen signifying yet another lopsided run is approaching. Either way, the Kangaroos’ victory altered the series’ dynamic.
For the first time since 1995, the Bulldawgs have revenge on their minds when it comes to Killeen, and the Kangaroos have finally earned the right to confidently strut into their next encounter with Copperas Cove. The rivalry both programs have so desperately desired is reaching a second infancy. Now, hopefully, both teams continue nurturing it by refusing to allow it to become dominated by either side.