Copperas Cove got a district win against Shoemaker last week, but the Bulldawgs earned an equally important moral victory as well.
Facing perhaps the most talented individual in District 8-5A, the Bulldawgs, who entered the contest with questions surrounding how their defense would fare against an explosive playmaker, shut down Grey Wolves running back Johnny Jefferson, limiting him to just 78 yards in a 45-6 victory at Leo Buckley Stadium.
The showing helped Copperas Cove remain in a tie with Waco Midway atop the district standings, while also proving to critics the Bulldawgs defense is shaping into a force.
After the game, Copperas Cove head coach Jack Welch knew his team accomplished an impressive feat by holding Jefferson 121 yards below his district-best rushing average.
“We had such a focus on him because that young man is something special,” the coach said. “He is going to have a breakout year, no question.
“We knew we had to stop him, and we had to stay right on him, but the thing about him is you can’t just bring him down with a one-arm tackle. You didn’t see that tonight. You saw two and three guys hitting him, and they were having to to get him down. He doesn’t go down easy.”
Jefferson might not go down easily, but he went down early and often against Copperas Cove.
Copperas Cove’s defense rarely allowed Jefferson to find room to run, containing him at or behind the line of scrimmage eight times and giving up just three runs of 10 yards or longer to the senior.
“That was very big, especially when they got a lead, and we are running the ball,” Shoemaker head coach Channon Hall said. “They could just pin their ears back and come get him, and that is just what they did.”
The Grey Wolves (1-4, 0-2) struggled all evening to move the ball, but had a particularly tough time in the first half. Shoemaker went into halftime with just 59 yards of offense and did not record a first down until early in the second quarter.
By that point, Copperas Cove (4-1, 2-0) was on cruise control.
The Bulldawgs needed just 11 seconds to claim a lead they would never relinquish as Vondareaz King took the opening kickoff 77 yards for a touchdown.
The highlight run down the left sideline was just the beginning for King. The junior running back finished 109 yards and a touchdown on 25 carries and threw a touchdown pass.
“Vondareaz is very much in the role we had for Orlando Thomas a couple of years ago,” Welch said. “Vondareaz can be a quarterback. He can pass well, so he is a multiple ballplayer. So, when you have kids that can do those things, it makes you more versatile.”
Following defensive back Demarkos White’s series-ending interception on Shoemaker’s first possession, the Bulldawgs needed just six plays to cash in on the short field as quarterback Robbie Seybold found Phillip Baptiste for a 24-yard touchdown.
The Bulldawgs forced a three-and-out on the ensuing possession, but got stuffed inside the Grey Wolves’ 10-yard line and had to settle for an Issac Ogeda 26-yard field goal.
Copperas Cove’s defense stepped up again on the following drive, forcing another three-and-out to set up a seven-play, 51-yard scoring drive assisted by a Shoemaker penalty that converted a fourth-down situation for the Bulldawgs.
Instead of forcing a field goal attempt, the Shoemaker penalty kept the drive alive for Copperas Cove and King took full advantage, scoring on a seven-yard run three snaps later, and the Bulldawgs held a 24-0 advantage after the first quarter.
But the Bulldawgs’ good luck did not stop there.
Midway through the second quarter, Seybold sprinted out of the pocket looking for the end zone, but a dozen yards into his run, the ball was knocked out and sent bouncing along the turf, where receiver Baptiste scooped it up and ran into the end zone, giving the Bulldawgs a 31-point lead.
“Just like I told (Baptiste), ‘A blind hog finds an acorn every once in a while,’” Welch said of the play. “If you are at the right place at the right time, you never know. But the example there is that Phillip wasn’t just standing around, he was down blocking, he was in the game, and our receivers do a good job of that. He was there at the point of contact, so he was able to do that.”