By Monty Campbell
The Cove Herald
Scouting opponents for a playoff football game can be the difference between good and bad football programs, especially if the team has intentions of advancing deep in the playoffs.
For the Copperas Cove Bulldawgs and their bi-district football game against the Waxahachie Indians, it is not only a case of good scouting that will help them advance, but also a case of been there done that.
The Dawgs knocked off the Indians 33-28 in the same bi-district match up last season, behind a 47-yard touchdown pass from Robert Griffin, III to Brian Jones with 2:05 remaining in the game.
Copperas Cove and Waxahachie face off again in the UIL Class 4A Division I bi-district round at Waco ISD Stadium Saturday afternoon. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m.
“Waxahachie is a solid football team with no flaws,” Copperas Cove head coach Jack Welch said.
“Their offense is centered around the quarterback (Boomer Collins) and their tailback (Dominique Carson) is small but a very powerful runner. Their quarterback is the catalyst of the offense though.”
Waxahachie (9-1) is coming off of a riveting 28-14 victory over rival Ennis, going undefeated in district play and capturing the district 15-4A crown.
The victory ended a string of 10 consecutive victories, over the course of nine years, by their Highway 287 rivals.
The rushing combination of Collins and Carson carried the ball club to the district-clinching victory by rushing for 84 and 103 yards, respectively. Carson added touchdown runs of one and five yards to give the Indians leads of 21-0 and 28-7.
As Welch and the rest of the Dawgs have come to know, the Indians’ ground game is centered around the backfield duo of Carson (130 rushes, 761 yards, 7 TDs) and Collins (113-617, 6 TDs).
Although, the Indians have failed to yield a 1,000-yard rusher this season, it does not mean they are any less lethal offensively.
The Indians on offense hasve averaged 322 yards and 30.7 points per game this season while reeling off nine consecutive wins.
Collins has steadily beaten opponents through the air as well.
He has completed nearly 60 percent of his passes (83-of-144) while passing for 1,116 yards and 13 touchdowns, compared to tossing only two interceptions.
Collins’ main threats through the air this season are Sam Gagliano (20 receptions, 294 yards, 2 TDs), Roderick Jefferson (10-224, 2 TDs) and Ryan Wilson (21-220, 3 TDs).
As strong as the Indians offense may be, it has been their defense that has led them throughout their nine-game winning streak.
The Indians pitched three shutouts during that winning streak to close the regular season.
The Waxahachie Indians’ defense is averaging allowing only 231 yards and 14.3 points per contest.
Middle linebacker Colton Cain returns as the catalyst of their defense, leading the team with 89 tackles and five sacks.
Cain is joined by returning starter Gary Mason, Jr. and Duke Bohall in the linebacker position.
“They (Waxahachie) have a big defensive line with solid defensive ends,” Welch said. “Their middle linebacker is stout and fast. They’re a real good team.”
Copperas Cove (8-2) enters the contest on the heels of a near-impossible comeback victory over the Waco Lions.
Waco eventually won the contest and the District 16-4A championship 27-21 in overtime.
Cove found itself trailing 21-7 with less than three minutes remaining in regulation when quarterback Robert Griffin, III put the team on his back and nearly brought home a win.
First, Griffin scored from eight yards out with 2:01 remaining and when the Dawgs defense held Waco to three-and-out, marched the team down the field in just over a minute.
He capped the drive by sprinting across the goal line from 11 yards out as time expired.
Despite dropping the district championship to the Lions for the second consecutive season, Welch feels that the way his team continued to persevere and come back in the regular season finale, it could take them far.
“Win or lose that ball game, we felt like we were winners. We showed our heart, desire and effort in the game last week,” Welch said. “If we keep that effort up, we can go a long way.”
Griffin (101-902, 17 TDs) and fellow University of Houston pledge Troy Vital (173-1,271, 13 TDs) lead a Cove offense that has averaged 385 yards and 38 points per game this year.
Defensively, the Dawgs are led by Geoff Neal, Steven Welch and Tanner Brock.
The defensive unit allows 258 yards and 16 points per game.
Contact Monty Campbell at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (254) 547-9173