COPPERAS COVE — Vondareaz King wants his senior season to end with a state championship, and he believes the time to win it is now.
Although the opening kickoff of the 2013 season is still several months away, Copperas Cove’s standout running back feels the Bulldawgs are ahead of the curve. In fact, according to King, the team has already collected a couple of regular-season victories during the first week and a half of spring training.
“We have to have little goals to win day by day,” King said. “You win games in practice, and (because of how we practice) when the games come, we will win.
“We are already winning games in practice.”
The Bulldawgs still have a long way to go before taking the field for the season opener in August, according to Copperas Cove head coach Jack Welch, but he is happy with the team’s overall progress.
“I feel good about the whole situation,” Welch said. “We have good talent, good speed, and we’ve won the district title for the third year in a row in track. I felt like we had a good group coming in, but they had a good spring, and I feel very good about it right now.”
While King, who ran for 1,314 yards and 16 touchdowns on 184 carries despite missing a pair of games, will most likely be the feature attraction, rising junior quarterback Manny Harris has impressed Welch and could be the opening-day starter if his progression continues.
“He’s low-key, poised, he doesn’t get rattled and he is doing an excellent job with his reads,” Welch said. “The only thing is he hasn’t played a varsity game yet, and that is the unknown.”
Last season, as a sophomore, Harris led Copperas Cove’s junior varsity gold team to an undefeated record and believes the experience was instrumental in preparing him for varsity-level competition.
“I got to play all the time,” Harris said. “If I would have been on varsity, I would have just sat on the bench behind the starters, but I got to play, and it made me better.
“I think (this year’s success) will carry over into next season. I’ll bring a lot of good momentum.”
Harris is currently battling with Devon Hopkins, who guided the junior varsity blue team to an undefeated season, for the starting quarterback spot vacated by Robbie Seybold, who committed to play for Mary Hardin-Baylor.
Regardless of who comes out on top, Welch believes the Bulldawgs, who went 7-4 last season and reached the playoffs for a ninth consecutive year, will be in capable hands.
“They both look good out there right now,” he said. “I’m very pleased with them.”
Perhaps the biggest areas of concern stem from the offensive line and on defense after losing several key players. While happy with the units’ overall progression, Welch believes it simply takes time for everyone to gel.
“It takes a little while to mesh,” Welch said, “but they are getting better and better. We are a young team both offensively and defensively, but that is good.”