COPPERAS COVE — Jack Welch has yet to step foot onto Fort Hood Stadium, but he already feels at home.
Copperas Cove is set to play three District 8-5A games at the area’s newest facility during the upcoming season, and while it is technically a neutral site, the Bulldawgs head coach feels the only real difference between Fort Hood Stadium and Bulldawg Stadium is location.
“We refer to (Fort Hood Stadium) as Bulldawg East,” Welch said. “We used to joke around and say Waco (ISD Stadium) was like Bulldawg East because we played so many games there. … We think it is a great opportunity for Fort Hood
and our community, and it becomes like a second home stadium.”
Welch and the Bulldawgs will get their first up-close glimpse of their new home away from home Thursday, when the team plays its third intrasquad scrimmage of spring training at Fort Hood Stadium. The scrimmage is set to begin at 4 p.m.
Considering Copperas Cove will play district games against Killeen, Ellison and Harker Heights at Fort Hood Stadium, Welch intends to use the scrimmage as an opportunity to acclimate his players to the surroundings, which could become a frequent destination for the Bulldawgs in upcoming years.
“I think it is going to become the Copperas Cove-Killeen Stadium,” Welch said. “Every time we play a Killeen school, it looks like we are going to be playing there. … It looks like that is what they are wanting to do, and we are very open to that.”
The Bulldawgs originally intended to have two scrimmages at Fort Hood, but the first was relocated to Bulldawg Stadium due to, among other things, the cost of marking the field.
Of Copperas Cove’s 10 regular season games this season, all but two will be played at either Bulldawg Stadium or Fort Hood Stadium. The Bulldawgs’ only games being played at an opponent’s home stadium will be a nondistrict game at Waco High and a district contest at Waco Midway.
“Copperas Cove is a military town,” Bulldawgs receiver/punter Hunter McVeigh said, “so playing at a military base is exciting.”
Although Welch hopes to create a home field advantage at Fort Hood, Bulldawgs receiver Phillip Baptiste intends to treat every game the same.
“We’ve never played there before, so it should be fun,” the rising senior said, “but it is just like any other field. We’re going to go out there and play like we play any other game.”
Unveiled last October, the $14 million facility was created in part to help accommodate the four Killeen ISD high schools, which all share Leo Buckley Stadium, causing some teams to play on Thursday evenings in order to avoid scheduling conflicts.
Copperas Cove’s strong ties to the military make the possibility of regularly playing at the new stadium especially appealing to Welch.
“It is a great opportunity for the Fort Hood community and the community of Copperas Cove to bond together,” he said. “You’ve got the Killeen fans, the Cove fans and then all of Fort Hood. It is very accessible and easy for everyone on Fort Hood to come to Fort Hood Stadium.”
Like Welch, linebacker Elijah Timarky is excited about the opportunity to play games at Fort Hood.
“(It will have a special meaning) because my dad served in the military for 22 years,” Timarky said.