It might not be out of desire, but Copperas Cove could find itself in a shootout.
Facing District 8-5A’s top scoring offense in a game with major playoff implications, the Bulldawgs’ defense will have its hands full Friday against Temple. Ranked second in overall offense to only Copperas Cove, the Wildcats sit atop the district rushing standings by more than 600 yards.
While Bulldawgs head coach Jack Welch would prefer to see his team completely shutdown Temple’s ground game, he understands simply slowing the Wildcats down would be an accomplishment.
“The bottom line is you’ve got to stop the run,” he said. “I don’t know if you can stop it totally because they’re really good. (Quarterback Chase Truelove and running back Jeff Carr) do a lot of misdirection, and they run extremely well behind their big offensive linemen.”
Temple comes into tonight’s game averaging 503.8 yards per game, including 319.1 rushing yards, with Carr and Truelove ranking second and 10th, respectively, among district rushers. Carr (1,141 yards, 12 touchdowns) joins Killeen senior Daniel McCants as the only two players to already top the 1,000-yard plateau, while Truelove has a 5.91-yard per carry average and seven touchdowns on 85 carries.
Last week, however, the Bulldawgs (5-3, 3-2) had no problem shutting down Ellison’s rushing attack.
The Eagles ran the ball 23 times for 62 yards with only two attempts going for double-digit yardage, including an 11-yard touchdown by Deon Burch to provide the final points in Copperas Cove’s 48-28 victory at Hood Stadium.
Ellison finished the game with 373 total yards of offense behind a pair of 100-yard receivers. Hayward Clay (126 yards) and Reggie Jackson (101 yards) each caught nine passes as quarterback Jacob Ledford completed 27 of 43 passes for 276 yards and Hayward threw a pair of touchdown passes.
But the Bulldawgs were never challenged as they scored 21 unanswered points to start the game, which also helped force Ellison (0-8, 0-5) away from its rushing attack, which averages 204.1 yards per game.
The victory propels the Bulldawgs into tonight’s matchup against Temple (5-3, 4-1) with the winner claiming possession of second place in the district standings.
But Welch is not concerned with anything other than reaching the postseason.
“We’ve got to win,” he said, “get to the playoffs and try to finish being the very best we can.”
Copperas Cove was on top of its game last week as Manny Harris completed 24 of 33 passes for 254 yards and three touchdowns in addition to rushing for 80 yards and two scores. Senior receiver Phillip Baptiste caught 11 passes for 113 yards and two touchdowns, while Shaq Fluelen and Elijah Shipley each finished with at least 60 rushing yards and a touchdown.
“The best thing is I think we’re peaking at the right time,” Welch said. “We’ve continued to improve throughout the whole year. We’re getting better and better, and that’s what I want to see these last two weeks. (I want to) finish on a real positive not by knocking the nail in the coffin. In other words, making the playoffs and moving on.”