COPPERAS COVE — On Thursday afternoon, three short blocks from Bulldawg Stadium, Manny Harris was flashing a hundred-yard smile.
Harris was grinning at his home for two reasons. First, the Copperas Cove junior quarterback had been informed he was the Killeen Daily Herald’s 2013 All-Area Most Valuable Player.
Second, Herald photographer Catrina Rawson had asked the 6-foot-2, 200-pound Harris to hold a football while she clicked away.
“I love holding a football,” said Harris, once the photo-shoot concluded. “I love football. I sleep with a football. The first time I ever held a football I was a baby. I was always carrying a ball. Now, I can’t go anywhere without carrying a football. I love everything about football.”
And the Copperas Cove football program certainly loves having Harris as its quarterback.
In 2013, Harris set school records for most passing yards in a game and single season. Harris threw for 516 yards in his first-ever career start on Aug. 30 and 3,775 yards in the season. Both shattered old school records set by — and you may have heard this name — Robert Griffin III.
“RGIII is a family friend and when I talked to him about breaking the records he was very happy for me,” Harris said. “He had texted me that night right after the (Aug. 30) game and since we had lost a heartbreaker (44-41 to A&M Consolidated) he
reminded me to keep my head up and that I was just a junior — and that I needed to stay positive.”
It was advice Harris took.
On Oct. 4, Harris tossed seven touchdown passes against Shoemaker in a 63-41 win, breaking a school record held by Robbie Seybold.
For his outstanding season, Harris earned All-State recognition and was named 8-5A District Co-Most Valuable Player.
But more significant to Harris than all the statistics, records and awards, was leading Copperas Cove into the playoffs for the 10th consecutive year.
In the must-win final contest of the regular season, Harris completed 21 of 32 passes for 298 yards including three aerial scores in a road win over Harker Heights.
“I did not want that to be the last game for our seniors,” Harris said. “I had worked so hard in the summer with so many of those guys. We had to get in the playoffs. In Cove, that’s expected.”
As for the 2014 season, Harris said, “My expectations for myself are to become a better leader, get my footwork better and keep progressing with my arm.”
Harris also has some long-term goals.
“I want to go play Division-I level and then go to the NFL,” he said. “That’s been my dream ever since I was young. I’d especially like to play college football for Texas.”
And if it all happens?
What if Harris gets signed by the Longhorns and, after a successful career in Austin, hears his name called during the NFL draft?
“That would be a dream come true,” said Harris. “For most, the chances of being drafted into the NFL are slim and none. But to hear my name called in the NFL draft would be pretty unbelievable.”
And, yes, Harris would be smiling.
“Absolutely,” he said. “It would be the biggest smile I’ve ever had in my life.”
KILLEEN DAILY HERALD ALL-AREA FOOTBALL TEAM
- Christian Gomez, Florence, Sr. — Played all five positions on offensive line and served as anchor of offensive line unit. Was lead blocker for most of Florence’s rushing plays. All-District 13-2A, Division I first team offensive line selection.
- T’Mond Johnson, Killeen, Jr. — Helped pave way for Daniel McCants to surpass 1,600 yards rushing. Helped Kangaroos rush for 2,300 yards in 10 games. All-District 8-5A second team offensive line selection.
- Justin Murphy, Belton, Sr. — Murphy ended his career at Belton by making the All-District 8-5A first team, the only Tiger to earn that honor. Murphy, a 6-foot-8 , 276-pound offensive tackle, will play his college ball at Texas Tech.
- Jesse Uvalle, Lampasas, Sr. — The anchor of the Badgers’ offensive line, Uvalle landed on the 8-3A All-District First Team after clearing the way for two running backs to rush for at least 950 yards as Lampasas ran the ball approximately 80 percent of the time.
- Remington Weis, Copperas Cove, Sr. — The 6-foot-3, 265-pounder was instrumental in helping the Bulldawgs finish as the state’s most prolific 5A offense, averaging 518.9 yards to go with 46.7 points per game, after no starters from last season’s offensive line returned.
- Manny Harris, Copperas Cove, Jr.
- Marcus Anderson II, Harker Heights, Sr. — Anderson was the key to the Knights’ power-I offense and overcame injury and defenses slanted to stop him. The senior earned a first-team nod on the All District 8-5A team and gained 1,005 yards and four touchdowns despite missing time with an ankle injury suffered in district play.
- Daniel McCants, Killeen, Sr. — Finished second in district with 1,620 yards and 18 touchdowns on 211 carries. All-District 8-5A first-team running back selection. Led district in scoring with 128 total points.
- Nahome Anderson, Shoemaker, Sr. — Caught 47 passes for 1,216 yards and 13 touchdowns on the season, including three receptions for 94 yards and a touchdown in playoffs. AP All-State Class 5A honorable mention. Helped Shoemaker make second playoff appearance in school history.
- Phillip Baptiste, Copperas Cove, Sr. — Catching a touchdown in every game of the season, Baptiste finished the season with 113 receptions for 1,556 yards and was showered with recognition, earning first-team honors on both the all-district and all-state teams.
- Kase Spears, Salado, Sr. — Spears (66-1,001) helped power the Eagle offense as a favorite target of quarterback McLane Carter. Also the starting point guard on the basketball team, Spears was named first-team All-District 13-2A, Div. I.
- Austin Roden, Harker Heights, Sr. — Roden owned one of the most powerful legs in District 8-5A and regularly changed games with his 40-plus-yard range. Roden was a second-teamer on the All-District 8-5A team.
- Rayshun Spearman, Shoemaker, Sr. — Rushed for 814 yards and accumulated 278 yards receiving to go with 10 total touchdowns. Averaged 81 yards per game and helped Shoemaker make appearance in Region I-5A playoffs.
- Tolly James, Shoemaker, Jr. — Accumulated 21 tackles, including 17 solo and one sack for Grey Wolves defense. District 8-5A all-district second team defensive tackle selection.
- Kendall Jones, Shoemaker, Soph. — Recorded 22 tackles, including 19 solo, and nine for loss to go along with a sack. All-District 8-5A defensive tackle selection. Helped Grey Wolves make first playoff appearance in five years.
- Cody Kipp, Harker Heights, Jr. — Kipp was an anchor on the interior defensive line and even contributed on the offensive line. Despite regularly facing a size disadvantage at 5-foot-9, 250 pounds, Kipp was one of the Knights’ key contributors and was an All-District 8-5A first teamer.
- Peyton Womack, Salado, Sr. — The Eagles didn’t own the best scoring defense in District 13-2A, Div. I, but Womack was still a standout in a district filled with talent on that side of the ball. Murphy was an All-District 13-2A first-teamer in his final season with the Eagles.
- Malik Clemons, Shoemaker, Sr. — Recorded 119 total tackles, including 88 solo in 10 regular season games. Had an interception, blocked punt and six sacks. District 8-5A all-district first team selection after helping Grey Wolves end four-year playoff drought.
- Cooper Edmiston, Gatesville, Soph. — An athlete who landed on the 8-3A All-District team as a tight end and a linebacker, he recorded a team-high 138 tackles, including 92 solo, while also producing a sack and recovering two fumbles.
- Peyton Searcy, Killeen, Jr.— All-District 8-5A first-team linebacker selection. Helped Killeen get to within one game of playoff spot.
- Jaylen Waters, Copperas Cove, Jr. — An all-district first-team selection, Waters led Copperas Cove in tackles for a loss (13), sacks (4) and caused fumbles (4), while finishing second in solo tackles and total tackles with 60 and 102, respectively.
- Darnell Everett, Shoemaker, Sr. — Defended 11 passes and recovered a fumble. Totaled 95 tackles, including 55 solo tackles. District 8-5A all-district first team safety.
- JD Post, Copperas Cove, Sr. — The Cove cornerback intercepted three passes and was responsible for two of the Bulldawgs’ four defensive touchdowns, while also breaking up a team-high 17 passes to earn him all-district first-team honors.
- Dwayne Williams, Shoemaker, Sr. — Hauled in district-best 10 interceptions for 276 yards and one touchdown. AP All-State 5A first team member. Helped Shoemaker make second playoff appearance in school history. District 8-5A Defensive Player of the Year.
- Keleen Yates, Killeen, Jr. — Led district with 1,132 total yards on 31 punts. Averaged 36.52 yards per punt and didn’t have any blocked. All-District 8-5A second-team punter selection.
COACH OF THE YEAR
- Channon Hall, Shoemaker