By Evan Mohl
The Cove Herald
The Copperas Cove Bulldawgs seem to have a knack for drawing playoff opponents with outstanding quarterbacks. In the first round, the Dawgs squared off against Boomer Collins and the Waxahachie Indians. Last week, Cove faced the Dallas Samuell Spartans and TCU-recruit DaWaylon Cook.
On Friday night at 7:30 p.m., the Bulldawgs get the McKinney Boyd Broncos (9-3) and sophomore sensation Daryn Alves in their regional semifinal matchup at Floyd Casey Stadium in Waco.
Alves has been sensational this season. The quarterback has rushed for nearly 2,500 yards on just 315 attempts, an average of 7.7 yards a carry.
“Nobody’s stopped him,” said Copperas Cove head coach Jack Welch after looking at the film on Alves. “He’s fast. He’s a tremendous athlete and he’s going to run that football.”
Alves isn’t your typical superstar athlete. He stands a generous 5-foot-7, 155 pounds. Still, he has made defenses look silly, proving the old adage that size doesn’t matter.
In his first playoff game against Richardson Pearce, Alves earned the Dallas Morning News’ SportsDay offensive player of the week. He rushed for 251 yards and five touchdowns as he led the Broncos to their first playoff victory in school history.
“His size is really not a factor,” said McKinney Boyd coach Don Drake. “It doesn’t play into his mind. Everybody else in the world sees him as 5-6, 150 pounds, but that’s not how he considers himself when he’s playing the game.
“I think he’s a tough competitor. He’s also extremely athletic. I think the combination his athleticism with his competitiveness is what I think makes him who he is.”
The Copperas Cove defense, however, has proved to be tough on opposing quarterbacks. In their first two playoff games, the Bulldawgs did not allow either Cook or Collins to rush for more than 75 yards. It’ll have to be more of the same if Cove expects to survive another week.
“You have to make sure you get the ends outside and your linebackers get to Alves and wrap him up,” Welch said. “This guy, he plays like he’s 8 feet tall. He’s got really good speed, he runs a 4.4. When he bounces out and he gets out of the containment, he’s gone. So you have to keep containment on him.”
On the defensive side of the ball, the Broncos are much improved. Last year, they gave up 47 points or more seven times. This year, they made the switch from a 4-5-2 defense to a 3-4. They’ve given up 40 points just once and limited opponents to an average of under 24 points a game.
The change in defensive schemes has allowed Boyd to be more aggressive and opportunistic. They blitz heavily and often, which will put a lot of pressure on the Cove offensive line.
“They’re a blitzing defense,” Welch said. “When you’re a 3-4 defense, that means you’re a blitzing and stunting defense. They’re going to twist the line, stunt the linebackers, blitz the linebackers and that’s what gives people problems. So, you have to be ready to pick all that up. Our lineman have to make sure they know their blocks and sustain those blocks.”
As a result of their aggressive play, the Broncos led their district in forced turnovers. In last week’s playoff game against Marshall, they created seven miscues.
“They’re punching the ball out, they’re stripping the ball,” Welch said. “That’s why they’re in the third round of the playoffs. We’re going to have to carry the ball with two hands and take care of the football.”
The Broncos have been one of the feel-good stories of the year in Texas High School football. Last season, in their first year in existence, they failed to win a game. One year later, they’re looking to win their third playoff game in school history.
“I think it’s about confidence,” said Drake of his team’s turnaround. “If kids don’t believe they can compete, they’re not going to compete at the level they’re capable of.
“What I hope we’ve been able to do is instill enough confidence in these kids so that when they step onto the field, they feel they can compete with people.
Hopefully, we can do that Friday night versus Copperas Cove.”
Contact Evan Mohl at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7564