COPPERAS COVE — Jeremy Shannon never played at the Texas 7-on-7 Championships.
The former Copperas Cove quarterback graduated the year before the tournament’s inception in 1998, but since, he has witnessed many of the Bulldawgs’ appearances.
Entering his 14th season at his alma mater, Copperas Cove’s quarterbacks coach knows what it takes to be successful at state, and after watching the Bulldawgs from afar as they prepare to begin the program’s 11th trek toward a championship, he feels the team is poised to be a contender.
The Bulldawgs open play against Alamo Heights at 1 p.m. today at College Station’s Veterans Park and Athletic Complex before facing Whitehouse at 3 p.m. Copperas Cove concludes pool play against Cypress-Fairbanks at 5 p.m.
The two teams advancing to the championship bracket will resume play at 9 a.m. Saturday, while the remaining teams are placed in the consolation bracket with games set to begin at 8 a.m. The consolation final is set for 3 p.m. with the Division I championship being decided at 4 p.m.
Herald reporter Clay Whittington spoke with Shannon, who has been watching from the stands as Copperas Cove has worked its way into the state tournament.
How did you feel they looked during the state warm-up?
I think everything they did was good for them because they wanted to work different situations. It was more situational than it was a game. Obviously, in a game, it is more fast pace and high speed, but here they got to talk about some things. The quarterback was trying to get the guys in right situations. They were looking at some different things, like bunch packages, and then coming down near the goal line, they were working inside the 15-yard line, working some two-point conversion stuff and some one-point conversions. I think they’ll get more out of that than playing actual games, especially in preparation for the state tournament.
So, did it look like they accomplished everything they needed to?
I think so. First of all, those guys hadn’t done a whole lot in about a week and a half, so just to get out there, get the rust out, get moving and working and get prepared mentally and physically, I think it was good. I think it also worked out for Belton and Burnet. They seemed to really enjoy coming over here and getting in the extra work.
Obviously, both of those teams will be at state also. Was it good for them to practice against some state-caliber competition?
It is. They see Belton quite a bit. They play them in a lot of the tournaments and they are also in the same league, so they have a good idea about what Belton does, and Belton has a good idea of what they do. It was good to see Burnet because they are going to be in a different division, so they wanted to get a different, better quality workout. I think, overall, it was good for everyone.
As someone who has watched Copperas Cove play from a distance this summer, have you seen the progression you would expect?
I can’t speak for everybody, but offensively, I think they’ve come a long way. They’ve got some kids that are consistently here, and that is something coaches like to see. They go to a lot of tournaments, and the goal is to win every game, obviously, but coaches want to see the technique part of it.
That is what 7-on-7 helps with offensively. Defensively, I think it takes them out of their game a little bit because they are more of a run-stopping team. They kind of have to switch their focus sometimes, but I think the defense has come a long way from the beginning even though they qualified for state at the first tournament they went to. I think, overall, they have progressed each week both offensively and defensively.
In your opinion, what should the guys be working on during the final days leading up to the tournament?
To be honest, they’ve done so much 7-on-7. They’ve done it for basically the whole month of June. They’ve gone to four tournaments, three state qualifiers, and then they played in Belton’s Lone Star Shootout, where they played 11 games. They have a league on Monday nights. These kids played a lot of 7-on-7. So, I think them getting a break last week is going to help going into state. It is a good culmination. I think they are prepared. I think they are ready to go to state and show them what they’ve got. They just have to come ready to play.