Many in Copperas Cove moaned upon hearing the news.
Sure, the Bulldawgs clinched a playoff berth after beating Harker Heights in last week’s regular season finale, but they drew one of the hardest matchups in the state. The reward for fighting their way into the postseason following a 1-2 start to District 8-5A play was a bi-district game against No. 2 DeSoto.
Some of Copperas Cove’s faithful were cringing as they processed the information.
It is not a knock against the Bulldawgs by any means. Like players and coaches, fans simply want their favorite team to experience a deep playoff run, and the easier road tends to allow for more success.
For most, it is natural to want to avoid top-ranked teams.
The Bulldawgs, however, do not have that luxury. Their road to a state championship begins with one of the state’s elite.
Although some fans might disagree, I have yet to see a Copperas Cove player or coach show anything other than enthusiasm for the opportunity to pull off an upset.
They are embracing the challenge, and that is exactly what they should be doing.
I grew up in San Antonio and have been a diehard Spurs fan since I was little. For years, I watched as my beloved team came up short in the playoffs.
Heartbreaking series after heartbreaking series, the Spurs annually crushed my spirit.
Then, in 1999, everything changed.
Tim Duncan supplied the Spurs with everything they lacked in prior seasons, and my team finally was crowned NBA champions. The emotions were indescribable, and I can still relive the scene as clear as day when I close my eyes.
But the good feelings did not last.
Soon after, then-Los Angeles Lakers head coach Phil Jackson uttered the word “asterisk” and my world stopped. Due to the 1999 season being shortened to just 50 games because of a lockout, Jackson was implying the title was tarnished and illegitimate. My perspective quickly changed.
In order to remove all doubt, nothing should be left to criticism. Like many, I always wanted the Spurs to avoid playing the league’s best. I wanted somebody else to pull off an upset, so my team would play David and not Goliath.
Since that day, I have always wanted and hoped the Spurs would encounter the top seeds. Last season, they did, and they lost.
Miami beat San Antonio in seven games. It was the first time the Spurs lost in the finals, but I was content. Distraught, but content.
I would rather watch my team lose to the best than beat the worst. I didn’t want a short-handed Chicago team to beat the Heat. I didn’t want the up-and-coming Pacers to represent the Eastern Conference in the finals.
I knew if the Spurs defeated Indiana or anyone else for the championship, there would always be a contingency of skeptics, who would say, “Yeah, but San Antonio couldn’t have beat the Heat.”
I don’t need to live life with another “asterisk” hanging over my head, and the Buldawgs don’t either.
Copperas Cove must beat the best in the state in order to erase all doubts, and if DeSoto is truly as good as its ranking indicates, odds are it would be waiting on the Bulldawgs at some point.
And if the Bulldawgs don’t win, they simply don’t deserve to be crowned champions.
Going through DeSoto might not be the most appealing path to a state title, but with a win, it would be the most satisfying start imaginable.
Contact Clay Whittington at firstname.lastname@example.org