TEMPLE — It was not always positive, but it was always beneficial.
Copperas Cove has been through a number of highs and lows during the 2012 season, with several of each occurring within the last month.
The Bulldawgs lost consecutive District 8-5A games to Waco Midway and Belton, but responded with a pair of victories, including Friday’s 51-14 win at Temple, to set up a critical regular season finale against Harker Heights, with the winner advancing to the playoffs.
While no coach ever wants to lose, Copperas Cove head coach Jack Welch believes the trying experiences molded his players into what they are today: A cohesive unit.
“I’m very, very impressed with our football team,” Welch said. “We had a couple hiccups in the road that I wished I had over, but you (don’t get to do) those things over. I don’t even want to go into why I think we got beat in those games, but the bottom line is we did.
“We’ve had adversity thrown at us, and our kids responded well. Now, we’ve come to the end of the season, and I think we are hitting on all cylinders.”
The Bulldawgs’ performance last week against a talented but shorthanded Temple squad was a prime example.
Copperas Cove needed just one snap to reach the end zone and scored points on eight of 10 possessions en route to a lopsided victory against the Wildcats.
After forcing Temple to punt on its first possession, Bulldawgs quarterback Robbie Seybold found Rashaun Gibson for a 50-yard touchdown on the team’s first play from scrimmage.
By the end of the evening, the duo combined for two touchdowns, and Seybold completed 12 of 14 passes for 215 yards and what Welch believed to be a school record five passing touchdowns. In the first half alone, Seybold recorded 142 passing yards with 80 going to Gibson.
“Whenever you look to the side and see Rashaun matched up one on one with a corner, it is always a good look,” Seybold said. “Rashaun makes good moves, he’s fast and he catches the ball.”
The victory moves Copperas Cove (6-3, 4-2) into a three-way tie for second place with Killeen and Harker Heights in the district standings.
While the victory was critical for the Bulldawgs’ postseason hopes, the biggest victory for Copperas Cove might have come in the form of running back Vondareaz King, who returned to lineup after missing the past two weeks due to personal reasons.
The junior finished with a team-high 112 rushing yards and a touchdown on 17 carries and a 17-yard scoring reception.
“Anytime you are at full strength, you have the opportunity to do things that you always practice,” Welch said.
Unfortunately for Temple, it was on the opposite side of the coin as it played without starting quarterback Zach Allen, who suffered a shoulder injury in last week’s loss to Harker Heights.
The Wildcats (5-4, 3-3) were also without the district’s second-leading receiver and backup quarterback Chad President.