Copperas Cove running backs Chans Colbert, from left, Vondareaz King and linebacker Darius McClinton all expect to finish the same way they did last season — as district champions.

Just because they share the same uniform, does not mean they share the same opinion.

Darius McClinton, Chans Colbert and Vondareaz King were all part of Copperas Cove’s district championship team last year, and they each experienced the elation of bouncing back from a single-digit loss to eventual state champion Southlake Carroll and winning the final nine games of the regular season.

And they each experienced the playoff loss two games later.

All three players took something different away from the Bulldawgs’ 2011 season, but they each use it for the same thing: motivation.

“I feel that we could have went a lot further in the playoffs,” running back Colbert said. “I don’t think we had the right focus.”

During the offseason, whenever Colbert contemplated last year, there was a single thought.

“I didn’t want it to happen again.”

With the graduation and departure of several key players, the senior accepted a larger leadership role, making a point to become an encouraging and motivating voice for his teammates, while helping everyone remain focused.

Despite the added responsibilities on and off the field, it is a role he is comfortable filling, and, as a running back, he knows exactly who to praise.

“I just keep (everyone) going, telling them good job,” Colbert said. “I’ll tell the linemen, ‘Come on. We need you,’ because we can’t do it without the linemen.”

Backfield teammate King has a fonder recollection of his sophomore season.

“Accomplished,” the all-district second team running back said. “District title, district champs; that’s what comes to mind.”

Now, he is determined to repeat, and he put in the offseason work to prove it. Six times a week, King endures workouts consisting of running two miles, lunge walks and sprints before hitting his home weight bench.

Admittedly, it is an arduous schedule, but it is worth it for a little peace of mind when it comes to achieving his goal of winning consecutive district championships.

“There is a little bit of pressure because if you want to do it again, you’ve got to work twice as hard just to make sure it happens,” King said.

McClinton shares his teammates’ visions of district glory and playoff success, but, unlike them, he has disconnected himself from 2011.

“Honestly, I’m not really thinking about last year anymore, because the past is the past,” the senior said. “I’ve got to move on to this season.

“The first day of the offseason is the first day I started getting (last year) out of my state of mind. I’ve got to shoot for next year.”

And his goals are lofty.

“I want to win a district championship,” McClinton said. “Well, that’s the first step. Hopefully, after that, maybe a state championship.”

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