Let the Dawgs loose

By Angel Verdejo

The Cove Herald

Games like tonight's are about the future, Copperas Cove coach Jack Welch says.

So was last week's scrimmage in Abilene.

Southlake Carroll is one of the top football programs in the state, winning seven state titles and a pair of mythical national titles. And since 2000, the Dragons have been a quarterback factory, sending all but one starter to a Football Bowl Subdivision (formerly Division I-A) program.

Last year's starter, David Piland, is at the University of Houston. He followed Kyle Padron, who took over the starting job at Southern Methodist as a true freshman last season. Padron followed Riley Dodge (North Texas), who followed Greg McElroy (Alabama), who followed Chase Daniel (Missouri).

Carroll faces Cove at 7:30 tonight at Bulldawg Stadium.

The Dragons' Daxx Garman is this season's starter and already committed to Arizona. Facing a top-notch quarterback early, Welch said, will prepare the Bulldawgs for their District 12-5A opener Sept. 24.

"Who do we have the first district game? David Ash," Welch said of the Belton quarterback and verbal Texas commit. "So it's better for us to play these people."

Welch went on to say facing Abilene and its talented backfield (quarterback Ronnell Sims and running back Herschel Sims) would give the Dawgs the same benefits. Herschel ran for more than 2,300 yards last year and Ronnell totaled nearly 3,000 yards of offense in leading the Eagles to the Division II-5A title.

"If we get to the state title - you're going to play those kind of people," Welch said.

The Dragons and former head coach Todd Dodge jumped to 5A in 2002 and quickly got the state's attention, outscoring its opponents 725-231 on the way to a 16-0 season and Division II crown. Carroll lost the Division II title game the next year, but won consecutive titles from 2004-05.

The Dragons made it a three-peat with the 2006 Division I championship. Dodge moved on to North Texas after the 2006 season, with former Dragon assistant Hal Wasson taking over.

In all, the Dragons were 79-1 during the stretch and 90-3-0 from 2002-2007, including 49 straight wins at one point.

"They're very polished and very well coached - a very solid program," Welch said. "They're one of the elite programs in the state and you can see why. They're very disciplined in their play and a good football program."

With its current run of success - the Dragons have failed to get past the second round of the playoffs just once since 2000 - Welch said Carroll's program can withstand returning just one starter on each side of the ball.

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