Ready for district play

Cove Herald/CATRINA RAWSON - Cove players take the field against Southlake Carroll Aug. 27 at Bulldawg Stadium. The Dawgs open district play tonight against Belton.

By Angel Verdejo

The Cove Herald

The Copperas Cove Bulldawgs saw their streak of three straight Class 5A district titles end last year.

Cove went 14-0 in both 2004 and 2005, claiming the 13-5A title both seasons. The Dawgs did drop a district game in 2008, but still finished atop 12-5A ahead of second-place A&M Consolidated.

Here's a look at Cove's 12-5A opponents:

A&M Consolidated (Oct. 22)

So far: The Tigers (2-1) are the only 12-5A team other than Cove to reach the playoffs the last five years, and head into district play with consecutive wins. Two of A&M Consolidated's games have been close - the Tigers lost to Klein Oak 38-34 in Week 0 and beat Austin Westlake 26-21 two weeks ago.

Key player: Senior running back Chris Nutall leads 12-5A in rushing and heads into district play off a season-high game against Westlake. Nutall ran for 215 yards with two touchdowns.

Belton (tonight)

So far: Putting up yards and points hasn't been Belton's problem so far this season – the Tigers (0-3) are averaging 38.7 points and 454.3 yards per game. Unfortunately, Belton's defense isn't the strength it was a year ago, allowing at least 60 points in consecutive losses to Austin High and Waco Midway.

Key player: The Tigers begin and end with quarterback David Ash. The future Texas Longhorn has gaudy numbers (1,073 yards passing), but six interceptions. He had one this time a year ago.

Bryan (Oct. 15)

So far: The Vikings (2-1) were the district's only team to play last week, taking off Week 0, but going into 12-5A with a pair of close wins. They beat Round Rock McNeil 28-21 two weeks ago, and got a pair of late interceptions last week to hold off The Woodlands College Park 10-6.

Key player: Senior fullback Chris Watson leads Bryan in rushing with 434 yards on 74 carries, but 12-5A's third-leading runner fumbled twice last week and was held out of the end zone.

Ellison (Oct. 7)

So far: The Eagles (1-2) won their first game two weeks ago, winning a close game against former area rival Waco (37-35). Ellison relies on its powerful ground game, but the offense took a hit when fullback Devon Hocutt was injured against Waco and could miss the rest of the season.

Key player: With Hocutt likely watching, even more pressure will be put on running back David Cobb. The senior is 12-5A's second-leading rusher, but will have to adjust to more attention.

Harker Heights (Nov. 5)

So far: The Knights (1-2) have struggled since winning their opener over Georgetown in the 12th annual Texas Football Classic in San Antonio. The running game has struggled the most - Heights has rushed for just 384 yards in three games, the second-lowest amount in the district.

Key player: Junior quarterback C.J. Rodriguez won the starting job this season, but the former wideout has struggled with turnovers, throwing seven interceptions in his last two starts.

Shoemaker (Oct. 28)

So far: The youth that stepped in last season for the Grey Wolves out of necessity has continued to go through growing pains. Shoemaker (0-3) has avoided the injury bug, but mistakes and sloppy play are two big reasons why the Grey Wolves have scored just 28 total points this year.

Key player: Quarterback Jammie Blunt likely was thrown into the varsity scene too early last season as a sophomore, but has continued to show flashes of what it takes to play at the 5A level.

Temple (Oct. 1)

So far: The Wildcats' (0-3) slow start turned into near-embarrassment two weeks ago. After a close loss to Pflugerville Connally (27-24), Temple lost to Georgetown by 30 points and to San Antonio Churchill by 45 points. The 52-7 loss was the school's worst since losing to Cove 56-14 in 2008.

Key player: Running back Mar'Quette Willson has the task of following Lache Seastrunk, who is now at Oregon. Wilson ran for 110 yards against Churchill and is averaging nearly six yards a rush.

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