By Joshua Winata
The Cove Herald
AUSTIN — They came in droves to fill the stands. They cheered and barked and rang their cowbells. And, above all, they believed.
But as the clock ran down to zero, the fans on the Bulldawgs’ side of the stadium were strangely quiet and somber, a contrast to the boisterous clang of cowbells and cheers that filled the stands just minutes before. Apparently even the relentless optimism of Copperas Cove fans wasn’t enough to win the Class 4A Football State Championship for the Bulldawgs on Thursday at Round Rock Independent School District Athletic Complex.
However, despite a 20-14 loss to the Rosenberg Lamar Consolidated Mustangs, the Dawg fans still believe in the Cove football program and the players in blue who brought them this far.
“But I’m still proud to be a Bulldawg,” said Bulldawg fan Colleen Timmons. “I knew it was going to be a good game.”
Timmons, a teacher at S.C. Lee Junior High School, brought with her to the game a special request addressed to Santa: “All I want for Christmas is a state championship,” her poster read.
Although she didn’t get her wish this holiday, the journey has been enough of a gift for Timmons.
“It’s okay; I still love them,” she said. “I taught a lot of these kids.”
Cove fan Sam Uhler, who recently retired from the Army, and his two daughters have been coming to Bulldawg games for more than two years, but because of deployments to Iraq, this is the first season he has been able to attend every game.
Despite the loss, Uhler said he isn’t disappointed.
“We’re really proud of these kids, no matter what the outcome. To make it this far is a heck of an accomplishment,” he said.
Bulldawg fans proved their loyalty, braving blustery weather and near-freezing temperatures to cheer on their team.
Bundled in jackets, gloves and scarves like blue and gold Christmas packages, Bulldawg fans were already lining up by 1 p.m. to claim prime seats even though the gate didn’t open until 5 p.m.
The first fans in line were Cove residents Todd and Marie Fox, who brought their sons Payton, 12, and Blaine, 6, to cheer on their older brother Cameron, Bulldawg scout team defensive end.
Sporting matching blue mohawks and loaded with bags of cowbells, shakers and other Bulldawg gear, Todd said the game for him came down to two words: “We Believe.”
“Copperas Cove all the way,” he added, turning around to lead the rest of the line behind him in an impromptu cheer of “Who’s House? Dawgs House!”
“You can see we’re true Dawg fans,” Todd said.
With temperatures plummeting into the mid-30s, fans came armed with strategies to combat the cold: cuddling with friends, layering clothes, and buying armloads of warm kettle corn and hot cocoa from the concession stands.
Cove fan Jinet Caro slipped portable hand warmer packs into the gloves of her daughter Sophia, 8, and godson Nathaniel Butler, 8.
The gloves, of course were blue and gold and emblazoned with the Bulldawg name.
For that matter, so were their matching hats, ponchos, jackets, sweaters, shirts and scarves, all the way down to Caro’s Bulldawg earrings.
“We’re cold but ready to go,” Caro said. “Win or lose, we’re glad to be here.”
By kickoff, the stands were full of fans settled in nests of blankets and coats.
They didn’t get too comfortable, however, and were up on their feet cheering with howls and cowbells throughout the game.
“That’s one thing about the Dawgs: they do not sit down,” said Cove fan Pamela Smart.
The Smarts, who came to cheer on Bulldawg No. 7 defensive end John Smart, brought about a dozen people to the game loaded with Bulldawg gear and perhaps the most crucial piece of fan equipment: “Most importantly, we have loudmouths,” Smart said.
At half time, with the Dawgs in the lead 7-0, fans were unabashedly certain of a Cove victory.
“I’m proud of these Dawgs. I know we’ll win,” Cove fan Lori McCombs said. “We believe.”
By the end of the game, her tune hadn’t changed.
“I believed in them,” McCombs said. “I mean, I still believe in them, you know? There’s always next year.
“Third time’s the charm, right?”
Contact Joshua Winata at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (254) 547-6481