TEMPLE — Derris Prater walked away from Wildcat Stadium both concerned and confident.
Copperas Cove’s senior receiver saw too many signs of sloppiness during the team’s weekly 7-on-7 league play held in Temple on Monday as the Bulldawgs produced a record of 1-1-1.
While it was not the performance Prater hoped for in the Bulldawgs’ final tune-up before competing in their first Texas 7-on-7 Championships since 2010, he believes a lesson can be learned.
“Our laziness led to a slow start,” he said. “Once we get focused, we get going, and we get in our zone, though, we’re pretty good.”
Coming off an undefeated run through pool play at the Westlake State Qualifying Tournament, Copperas Cove fell into an immediate hole against host team Temple, trailing 21-12 with 16:43 remain-
ing in the opening game.
On the ensuing possession, Bulldawgs quarterback Manny Harris found Prater for a touchdown on the series’ first snap, trimming the deficit to two points, 21-19, but Copperas Cove could not get any closer.
Despite getting a subsequent touchdown from Tre Powell and two from Davonn Hopkins-Phelps, the Bulldawgs defense could not stop the Wildcats, who won 42-37.
Then, things began improving.
“I could feel our concentration coming,” Prater said. “We were running certain plays, and some of us didn’t want to run them, but we were running them anyway, and we started to get out of our lazy zone and started producing.”
Copperas Cove went on to tie two-time defending Class 2A state champion Cameron Yoe 26-26 before beating District 12-6A rival Belton 39-12 in the evening’s final contest.
For Hopkins-Phelps, who is developing into a primary target for Harris following the graduation of key receivers Phillip Baptiste and Hunter McVeigh, the team delivered a decent performance in his opinion.
“I felt like we played pretty good,” the senior said. “There were some areas we needed to play better in, but overall, we played pretty good. We just all wanted to be on the same page, work on our two-point conversions and stuff like that, and I feel we accomplished that today.”
Against the Yoemen, Copperas Cove built an early 20-7 lead following a touchdown connection from Harris to Prater with 15:20 remaining, but could not secure the victory. Yoe chipped away at the deficit and eventually took the lead before Harris found Hopkins-Phelps for a game-tying touchdown as time expired.
Hopkins-Phelps went on to haul in three more scores against Belton, but he was quick to share the glory following the Bulldawgs’ lone victory.
“I felt pretty good, but it was Manny who was throwing me the good passes that were giving me chances,” he said.
Now, with no more 7-on-7 games remaining before the two-day state tournament begins on July 11, the Bulldawgs look to focus on the small things capable of making a big difference during the layoff.
Although the final day of league play did not go exactly as Prater expected, he is certain the Bulldawgs will be ready when the state starts.
“The way we started tonight kind of worries me,” he said, “but I feel like knowing we are at the state tournament, everyone is going to come out fired up and ready to play. When it is time to go, we go.”
Contact Clay Whittington at email@example.com