With the summer quickly coming to an end, Copperas Cove High School athletics are kicking off the fall season early with practices commencing this week.

Bulldawgs Football

New athletic director and head football coach Jack Alvarez will be able to get to work with his team Monday.

After the school chose not to hold spring football, University Interscholastic League regulations allows Copperas Cove football to start practice a week earlier than the surrounding area teams who held spring practices.

“I would love to take them deep in the playoffs,” Alvarez said of leading the Bulldawgs back in May when he was hired. “I like to think my team usually gives great effort, great attitudes and play tough.

“And if they do that with the athletic ability that they have I feel like they’ll have a chance to make a deep run.”

Lady Dawg Volleyball

Head coach Cari Lowery came to Copperas Cove in 2004 and led the Lady Dawg volleyball to 12 state playoff appearances since 2006.

Lady Dawg volleyball has taken the district title in 2012, 2013, 2015 and 2017. Last season, Cove went undefeated in District 8-6A and held an overall record of 38-9.

However, Lowery and the Lady Dawgs will have a few new obstacles in the season ahead.

Although in past years the high school volleyball season has started Aug. 1, the newly realigned District 12-6A schedule presents a lot of challenges.

Lowery recalled that when the start of the season fell in the middle of the week, typically the University Interscholastic League would push it back to the following week.

“But they didn’t do that this year, so we play tomorrow,” Lowery said Thursday morning.

Tryouts began Wednesday, ran through Thursday before teams were officially decided and practices were scheduled to begin today.

For Lowery, many of her varsity players from last season are returning but the summer showed that the Cove volleyball program’s future is promising.

“We did strength and conditioning every morning all summer long, junior high and high school,” Lowery said of the 125 participants who showed up this summer. “And that’s a big commitment that they make, and their parents make and we appreciate that.

“It’s always impressive to me to see those incoming seventh graders walk into the gym and they don’t really know why they’re there but they really want to play Lady Dawg volleyball so they’re there and working hard.”

Time spent in the gym helps with team bonding, especially when the preseason is as short as the one ahead.

Realignment in February brought Temple and Waco back into district competition with Killeen, Harker Heights, Ellison, Shoemaker, Belton, Waco Midway and Copperas Cove.

“In my coaching career, this is the largest district I’ve ever been in,” Lowery said. “Yes it’s new but, you know, change is good because that’s a challenge and everything you do as a coach is a challenge.”

With the newly expanded district, Lady Dawg volleyball will be halfway through district competition by the time school starts Aug. 20.

“It’s going to be interesting to play a district game and then go play a tournament and then come back and continue on with district,” Lowery noted.

“You can’t make mistakes and learn as you go like you typically do in pre-season,” she added, noting that the Lady Dawgs will have to make quick adjustments as they face Temple, their first district opponent, in two weeks.

“One game can make can be the difference between going to the playoffs. One game can be the difference between the district championship and second place,” Lowery added. “You can’t let anybody sneak up on you, you can’t pass anybody up.

“You have to play every single game, every point and not over or underestimate anybody so it’s going to be interesting to see how it goes.”

The Lady Dawgs kick off the season today with an alumni scrimmage at 7 p.m. in the Bulldawg gym.

fcardenas@kdhnews.com | 254-501-7562

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