There is luck, there is blind luck, and there is bad luck.
And, believe it or not, Copperas Cove needed each to make its ninth consecutive trip to the playoffs a reality. Yes, even the bad luck.
While perceived to be random, fortunate acts, luck is actually created through preparation for the sporadic moments capable of altering outcomes. Luck is manufactured; it does not simply exist.
It occurs thanks to players, for example, knowing to scoop a fumble from the side instead of straight on, which eliminates the possibility of accidentally kicking the ball. It stems from a safety dropping an easy interception on fourth down because an incompletion provides better field position.
As fans, myself included, we see something mindboggling occur on the field and chalk it up to pure luck. Players and coaches view the exact same play and see a repeatedly rehearsed act finally pay off. It occurs in a multitude of ways every game.
Blind luck, on the other hand, is just catching a break. It is when a team’s fortunes are turned through no fault or merit of its own.
For instance, when the Bulldawgs desperately needed a win against Temple to keep their playoff hopes alive, as fate would have it, starting quarterback Zach Allen could not play due to a shoulder injury. Backup quarterback and the Wildcats’ top receiver Chad President was sitting on the sidelines as well with an injury.
Without Allen, the Wildcats’ offense could only muster 14 points in a home loss to Copperas Cove. One week later, though, the Syracuse commit returned to the field and led Temple to a 63-56 road victory against Killeen.
Then, there is bad luck — a situation where no good can seemingly be produced no matter how the variables are manipulated.
When running back Vondareaz King sat out two games due to personal reasons during the middle of the district schedule, it appeared to suck the life out of the Bulldawgs. Coming off a loss to state-ranked Waco Midway, Copperas Cove blew a 21-7 halftime advantage at Belton and lost 35-31, sending its hopes of reaching the postseason high into the air as the district standings became a jumbled mess.
With their junior playmaker, who, at the time, was the district’s leading rusher, out with no timetable for a return, the Bulldawgs were facing serious uncertainty.
But Copperas Cove did not wallow in the situation, and, one week later, it generated some self-prepared luck against Ellison.
Senior running back Daniel Ruff shouldered the offensive load, rushing for 270 yards — the fourth most in a single game in school history — and three touchdowns in a 34-9 victory against Ellison, and, with King returning against Temple, the Bulldawgs won their next two games to clinch a playoff berth.
The dose of bad luck turned out to be extremely beneficial.
It created depth, infused belief and developed resiliency for a team teetering on the edge of a potential downward spiral.
Without losing King for two weeks at such a critical juncture of the season, the Bulldawgs might not have ever turned to quarterback Robbie Seybold to break from the program’s norm and pass for 215 yards and five touchdowns at Temple. Ruff probably would not have received the opportunity to write his name in the school record books.
And there is no doubt, those two players, along with others, benefitted from the experience by gaining confidence in themselves and their teammates.
Now at full strength, the Bulldawgs must discover ways to build on their current momentum in the playoffs, starting with bi-district opponent Cedar Hill on Saturday afternoon at Waco.
And, although the odds are stacked against them, with any luck, Copperas Cove’s run will not end until Arlington.