Copperas Cove wants to capitalize on an opportunity.
Last year, the Bulldawgs were stunned in the season opener as A&M Consolidated scored a game-winning touchdown off a kickoff return with time expiring, ruining an improbable comeback attempt.
Now, Copperas Cove gets another chance against the Tigers, but there will be no motives of revenge from last year when the pair kick off the season at Bulldawg Stadium on Friday evening at 7:30 p.m.
Instead, the Bulldawgs just want to prove they are the better team right now.
“We don’t reference it, and we don’t try to make up for it,” Copperas Cove head coach Jack Welch said. “We’re not doing that. We’re just playing for today. Yesterday doesn’t do anything for us.”
In 2013, the Tigers held a 24-14 advantage early
in the third quarter, but the
pletely erased the deficit on then-junior quarterback Manny Harris’ 5-yard touchdown pass to Hunter McVeigh with 3 minutes, 39 seconds remaining in the game.
It was the beginning of a furious stretch in which both teams combined to score 44 points. But with no time remaining on the clock, A&M Consolidated’s Derrick Dick crossed the goal line on a wild, lateral-filled kickoff return, giving the Tigers a 44-41 victory.
Although the Bulldawgs are not looking to avenge the loss, the play still stings.
“I remember we were down big, but we fought hard,” senior defensive end Tyrell Thompson said. “We were thinking, ‘Make this tackle, and don’t give up.’ Then, after that play, I felt my heart breaking.”
Despite the dramatic conclusion, Harris has long since moved on.
“That kickoff happened to us, but we’re ready to bounce back this year,” he said. “We can’t blame that on them. We can’t take away what they did, and that’s what they did, so we’ve just got to keep playing.”
The Tigers enter the season ranked fourth overall in Class 5A, posing a difficult challenge for the Bulldawgs, who are 3-7 against A&M Consolidated since 2002, losing two consecutive season openers to their former district rival.
In fact, Copperas Cove has only produced one win over the Tigers since the teams began playing each other yearly in 2008, but Harris believes this encounter will be different if the Bulldawgs are prepared.
“Everybody has to know their assignments and play as a team,” he said. “Everyone has to know everything they’re going to do and make sure they do it right.”
By doing so, the Bulldawgs could end their losing streak to A&M Consolidated, but Welch refuses to look backward, making past showings and a particular last-second play irrelevant.
“That was last year’s game,” he said. “It has nothing really to do with this year’s game.”