Sam Jones has forgotten more about football than I will ever know.
Firmly entrenched as one of the area’s most respected coaches since taking over Killeen’s football program in 2004, Jones has an overall record of 65-40 with the Kangaroos. He’s competed for district championships, made playoff runs and, more importantly, helped shape the lives of countless young men.
Needless to say, his knowledge of the game and its surrounding intricacies dwarf mine, and while I have nothing but admiration for Jones, I’ve got to question his offseason tactics after he fumbled away home field advantage against Copperas Cove.
Killeen and the Bulldawgs are set to extend one of Central Texas’ greatest rivalries tonight at the area’s newest facility – Fort Hood Stadium. While the game will technically take place at a neutral site, Copperas Cove definitely has the edge.
After Killeen Independent School District teams spent years playing games on Thursdays or Saturdays as they shared Leo Buckley Stadium, the construction of Fort Hood Stadium allows teams to alternate use of the facility. Now, all the teams can enjoy the traditional Friday night lights, but it came at a steep expense for Killeen.
Instead of simply walking out of their own locker room to play the Bulldawgs, who are early-season contenders for the District 8-5A championship, the Kangaroos must now board a bus, travel across town and transfer into unfamiliar facilities considered by many to be subpar.
Fort Hood Stadium’s dressing rooms do not have lockers, bathrooms, central heat or air conditioning.
Sure, the Bulldawgs have to deal with the same situation, but they were going to be sitting in a visitor’s locker room either way. Killeen simply added a considerable amount of hassle to its gameday routine as it searches for its first victory of the season.
The Bulldawgs, on the other hand, will basically go through the same motions they would for any home game.
Copperas Cove players and coaches already board busses for home games, traveling from the high school to Bulldawg Stadium. Now, they simply ride an extra seven miles to reach Fort Hood Stadium, while the Kangaroos travel approximately the same distance.
With three games scheduled there this season, and knowing there is the potential for the stadium to become the site of all scheduled road games between Copperas Cove and KISD schools, Bulldawgs head coach Jack Welch wasted no time in claiming his territory, coining Fort Hood Stadium as Bulldawg East.
The Bulldawgs have already conducted scrimmages at Fort Hood Stadium, and while it is not ideal, it beats the heck out of playing a true road game.
Fans for most games will be split, if not in Copperas Cove’s favor as the Bulldawg faithful are known to travel religiously.
Considering Copperas Cove has 11 consecutive victories against Killeen and Welch has not lost to a KISD program since 1998, one would think the Kangaroos would not be so willing to relinquish one of the few advantages they have.
But maybe Killeen comes out and does something it hasn’t done in 17 years and beats the Bulldawgs. Maybe the game site doesn’t make a difference, and the Kangaroos end up celebrating at midfield.
And if they do, the victory will be well deserved because despite what the schedule says, Killeen does not have a home field advantage.