Manny Harris and DaVonn Hopkins-Phelps have played football together since they were kids.
For the first time, though, they are on the field at the same time.
Friends since childhood, the quarterbacks have spent seasons serving as backups to one another and been split apart on separate teams, but a recent position change gives the pair an opportunity to finally thrive in unison.
With Harris firmly entrenched as Copperas Cove’s starting quarterback after breaking multiple school passing records during his debut season as a junior, backup Hopkins-Phelps was moved to receiver.
In the short time at the position, he is quickly solidifying himself as valuable asset to the offense, becoming one of Harris’ favorite targets during the 7-on-7 season.
“He is a great guy to be around,” Harris said. “He is a real comfort blanket. Just knowing I have a big target to throw it to across the middle is great.”
The pair connected multiple times during the Bulldawgs’ final preparations for the upcoming Texas 7-on-7 Championships. Monday at Temple, Copperas Cove went 1-1-1 in the last week of league play, and while the outcome was not ideal, Hopkins-Phelps believes the best is yet to come.
“We expect to do very good during the season,” the senior said. “We are planning to go undefeated in district, but everyone is going to have to work hard during the offseason.”
Having an extensive history with Hopkins-Phelps, Harris knows the former quarterback will do his share.
Prior to the 2013 season, the pair was involved in a heated battle for the starting spot under center following the graduation of Robbie Seybold. It was a back-and-forth struggle between the longtime friends after each completed undefeated seasons on separate junior varsity teams as sophomores.
“He works hard,” Harris said. “We’ve always worked out together because we were both quarterbacks, so we’ve always been around each other. He works hard, and he deserves this.”
In the end, Harris won the job and immediately made history, setting new school records for passing attempts (51) and passing yards (516) in a single game on opening night, propelling him toward being named District 8-5A Co-MVP, All-Area MVP and landing on the all-state team. Meanwhile, Hopkins-Phelps rarely saw the field, completing just 6 of 9 passes for 46 yards.
Now, he is determined to make the most of his opportunity, but he understands after years of throwing the ball, his receiving skills have room to improve.
“I need to work on my speed,” Hopkins-Phelps said. “I just have to continue to keep working.”
With a little more than two months remaining before the beginning of the regular season, Harris believes the entire offense will be ready for opening kickoff against A&M Consolidated.
And when the final buzzer sounds to end the 2014 season, Harris would not be surprised to see his friend ranking among the best at his position.
“This is a great young group with a lot of potential,” he said. “There are some guys who could be top receivers in the state this year.”
Contact Clay Whittington at firstname.lastname@example.org