The time is coming.
Despite being on the verge of competing at the Texas 7-on-7 Championships, Breyon Jackson remains poised. He refuses to allow tension or nerves to take over his body.
The time for intensity has not arrived yet, but it is coming.
“I’m trying to stay relaxed and stay cool,” Copperas Cove’s cornerback said. “I think about it but not too much because I don’t want to put too much pressure on myself. Things change right before the game. I’ll get focused, and I’ll do what I have to do to be successful.”
The Bulldawgs kick off their 11th appearance at the state tournament today with a series of three pool-play games scheduled to begin at 1 p.m.
Like Jackson, for Copperas Cove receiver Derris Prater, there will be a switch in mentality the second he arrives at College Station’s Veterans Park and Athletic Complex.
“As soon as I step on the field I am focused,” the senior said. “I’ll be hyped. I’ll be amped, and I’ll be ready.”
Competing in Pool G, Copperas Cove begins its first run at a state title since 2010 against Alamo Heights before playing Whitehouse at 3 p.m. The Bulldawgs conclude pool play at 5 p.m. against Cypress-Fairbanks.
The top two teams from each pool advance to the championship bracket with games set to start at 9 a.m. Saturday, while play in the consolation bracket begins at 8 a.m.
After finishing last season as the top Class 5A offense in the state, averaging 518.9 yards per game, expectations are high for the Bulldawgs entering this season. Although 7-on-7 is a drastically different game than the one the team will play this fall, Prater believes this is a good opportunity to make a point.
“We want to prove we are just as good, if not better, than last year’s team,” he said. “We had the best offense in the state last year, and we didn’t even qualify for the state 7-on-7 tournament. This year, we made it, and we want to show we’ve improved.”
Surviving pool play will be a challenge, though.
In addition to being solid football programs, producing a combined record of 34-7 in 2013, all three of the Bulldawgs’ opponents are fixtures at the state tournament.
Led by Cypress-Fairbanks, the trio of teams has qualified for the event 30 times with the Bobcats attending every year since 2000. Alamo Heights has only missed three times since 2003, and Whitehouse has only one absence since 2009.
“I’m excited because that is a lot of great competition,” Jackson said of today’s schedule. “We just have to make stops on defense, and keep scoring on offense. It’s as simple as that.”
Copperas Cove advanced to play in the championship bracket in 2010 but lost in the opening round to Arlington Lamar, triggering a three-year absence from the tournament.
After getting some final-minute preparations in during a state tournament warm-up with fellow qualifiers Belton and Burnet on Monday at Bulldawg Stadium, Jackson is confident Copperas Cove can handle the challenge.
“We are looking great,” he said. “Everyone is doing their jobs, and defensively, we are coming out strong.”