COPPERAS COVE — There is no place Jack Welch would rather be. Well, almost.
Copperas Cove’s longtime head football coach and founder of the CHAMPS Heart of Texas Bowl was on hand Tuesday afternoon as coaches from all four teams competing in the first doubleheader in the event’s 12-year history gathered in person and via conference call at Bulldawg gymnasium to take part in a pregame news conference.
While delighted to see his creation coming to life bigger than ever before, Welch openly admits he would prefer to be elsewhere.
“Realistically, we wish we were still playing in the playoffs right now,” Welch said, referring to the Bulldawgs’ season-ending loss against Cedar Hill on Saturday.
With the 35-28 defeat, however, the coach’s attention turns toward Dec. 1 and the HOT Bowl as it expands to feature two games, including the first matchup of NCAA Division II schools in the bowl’s history. The doubleheader begins at 11 a.m., when Navarro College plays Georgia Military College and is followed by McMurry University versus Southern Arkansas University at 7 p.m.
Coincidentally, McMurry head coach Hal Mumme was the head coach at Copperas Cove from 1986 to 1988.
“It’s nostalgic,” Mumme said of returning to Bulldawg Stadium for the first time in more than two decades. “I’ve been thinking about it a lot, and I think it is really a neat thing, at this point in my career, to be able to come back and do this.”
Additionally, several former area high school players will be returning as collegiate athletes, including three Copperas Cove graduates in McMurry’s Daquon Bratcher and Kiefer Price, and Navarro’s Josh Lyons.
“Lyons is a local kid that is playing nose guard for us,” Navarro head coach Brian Mayper said, “and he is doing a super job. Our team has stubbed our toes a couple times, but we got hungry toward the end of the season and played really well. We are just excited about the opportunity to keep on playing.”
Although Welch would rather be coaching his Bulldawgs to a state championship, he enjoys having the opportunity to simply be a football fan when the HOT Bowl kicks off each season. And he believes this year should be the best yet.
“They ain’t kids,” Welch said. “They are men running out on that football field, and you know what is about to happen. That is exciting for me. As the head coach of Copperas Cove, it is exciting when we come out there in front of the stands, but to watch this, you are seeing some of the best football in the country right here in Bulldawg Stadium.”
HEART OF TEXAS BOWL
When: Saturday, Dec. 1, at Bulldawg Stadium
- 11 a.m. — No. 5 Navarro vs. No. 20 Georgia Military
- 7 p.m. — McMurry vs. Southern Arkansas
Tickets: On sale at Copperas Cove Athletic Annex. $20 for reserved seats and $10 for general admission. Each ticket is good for both games. Active-duty military get in free with valid ID card.