Copperas Cove quarterback Manny Harris delivered a stellar junior season, rewriting the Bulldawgs’ record books as he led the program to its 10th consecutive playoff appearance.
The past, however, no longer concerns Harris. He is focused on the future of Copperas Cove football, intending to help the team advance beyond the first round of the playoffs for just the second time since 2009.
Harris knows the Bulldawgs must be on top of their game come the fall, so he is dedicating himself to improving during the offseason, using 7-on-7 football as an opportunity to do so. With a second-place finish at the recent Lake Travis State Qualifying Tournament, Copperas Cove earned its first berth at the Texas 7-on-7 Championships since 2010.
On Thursday, Harris spoke with the Herald’s Clay Whittington about what’s ahead.
Spring training just ended. The summer break is here. What is this time of year like for you?
I’m already back at it. There is no time off. I have to get ready for the next season. We start lifting weights next week, and I’ll be doing some extra stuff with the receivers to get ready for next season.
How do you feel the 7-on-7 team is coming together?
I think this is a great 7-on-7 team. It is going a lot better than last year. We have a lot more guys with a lot more experience this year, and it is showing in the 7-on-7 tournaments. We’ve just been coming out to play, and we are looking a lot better than last year already.
What is the biggest difference this year?
I just feel like we have a lot more guys who want to come out and work. It feels like it is going to be a special year for us this season.
Outside of winning, what are you trying to achieve during the 7-on-7 season?
I’m just trying to get the timing down with all the receivers and the backs, then the defense gets the concept of looking for the ball when it is in the air — going for it, making some plays and taking some risks at times. It is just about coming together as a team, and it is shows me who is going to get it when the real time comes.
Do you believe 7-on-7 is a valuable part of the offseason?
Yeah, it is, but at the same time, it is not technically football. It is a lot softer than football, but I think it is good, and it is fun. It is something to keep football in our mind all year-round, and just a way to get us out and play.
You lost some good receivers from last year’s team. How is the current receiving corps developing?
I think they are looking really good, but we have to outplay last year’s team. We can’t be last year’s team. We have to be better than last year’s team. We can’t live off of last year. We have to start our own legacy this year.
Has the team established any goals for this year yet?
Our first goal is to win district. Our second goal is to make it to the playoffs, and our third goal is to win state. We can do that if we all work hard and play as a team.
Do you have any personal goals you want to accomplish during your senior season?
I just want to be the best player I can be for my teammates.
How important is the offseason in getting you prepared for the regular season?
It’s all related. We have to get ourselves ready for the first game. We can’t have a slip-up like we did last year. We have to work hard for this coming season, and it starts now. We have to be accountable now.
Is your focus squarely on the season opener against A&M Consolidated right now?
Actually, my focus is on our first scrimmage against Abilene. We have to get past them first, then A&M Consolidated will come. It is just one game at a time. That’s our focus, and that is why we are going to be great this year.
Does it seem like the rest of the team has the same approach?
Yes, that is how it is. I told the guys at the 7-on-7 tournament to just take it one game at a time. If we played as a team and took it one game at a time, then we were going to make it to state, and that is what we did. We qualified.
Now that Copperas Cove is qualified for state, does that change how you approach your remaining state qualifying tournaments?
Well, we can’t advance beyond the semifinals, but our goal is to go into every game and win, and we want to polish up on some things that we need to be ready for at state. Our goal is to win at state in 7-on-7.