Orlando Thomas is gone.
So is Brandon Hamilton. William Randolph, Trevor Valdez, Josh Boyce and Robert Griffin III are all gone as well.
Copperas Cove’s rich history of individual playmakers is on a hiatus this season, and Jack Welch could not be happier.
“We don’t have a player who sticks out, and, to be honest, I like it that way,” the Bulldawgs head coach said. “When you usually have a standout ballplayer, subconsciously, people around them start kind of relying on that person, hoping they have that break-out run.”
While Welch is not opposed to having players emerge into game-changers because of the confidence they can instill within the program, he believes his blue-collar roster is capable of delivering the Bulldawgs to the playoffs for the 14th time since 1998.
But it will not be easy.
Offensively, linemen Justin Greene and Israel Hamm, who both received all-district recognition last season, will be counted on to open holes as Cove relies heavily on its running game, headlined by senior Chans Colbert and junior Vondareaz King.
“This might be my last football season, so I’m trying to go all out,” Colbert said.
As a junior, Colbert totaled 559 rushing yards and five touchdowns.
King also looks to make a splash this season after being named to the all-district second team as a sophomore, but he knows he cannot do it alone.
“If my line does what it needs to do, then I’ll find the holes,” King said.
Senior quarterbacks Robbie Seybold and Nick DePrisco are both competing for the starting position. Regardless of who earns the spot, he will be expected to use his arm to balance the offense.
“We haven’t had that in the last couple of years,” Welch said. “Our throwing ability has not been as strong as our running ability, and, right now, we are looking to be a little more mixed.”
Tight end Girod Fluelen should receive his share of passes after his junior campaign landed him on the all-district second team, while Phillip Baptiste, Hunter McVeigh and Rashaun Gibson, among others, stretch the field.
Middle linebacker Darius McClinton is the heart and soul of the Dawgs defense, and the senior will be looking for a second consecutive district defensive MVP honor.
Several new faces, however, surround him, and they must all quickly gel into a cohesive unit.
“I think they are going to be OK, they seem to be working well together, but, right now, it is all in a teaching phase,” Welch said. “We are not where we want to be. We have a lot of work to do, but I like the way they are working at it.”