Since stepping on the field in August, Copperas Cove senior quarterback Easton Simpson had one goal in mind: Guide his team to the playoffs.
Friday night, Simpson has the chance to make the dream a reality.
The Bulldawgs host Temple in their final District 12-6A showdown of the season in a must-win situation. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.
After foregoing spring practices, many questioned if Copperas Cove would even have this opportunity, but it was never a question for the Bulldawgs’ seniors, who used the doubts as motivation.
Copperas Cove found its groove behind head coach Jack Alvarez, who is in his first season leading the Bulldawgs, but Simpson and his team received a wake-up call last week against Shoemaker despite earning a 41-35 win.
“The one word for this night is sloppy,” Simpson said after the game. “We could have played a lot better, but the heart of these guys is what pushed us through.
“But it’s going to take a lot more than that to get ready for what’s next.”
Copperas Cove has an overall record of 6-3, and they are 4-3 in district play, while Temple is 8-1 overall and 6-1 in district.
Just below the Bulldawgs is Killeen, sitting at 4-5 overall and 3-4 in district competition as they head to face Waco on Friday night.
With the final playoff spot on the line, the Bulldawgs need a victory over the Wildcats or a Killeen loss at Waco to advance. If the Kangaroos win, they clinch the district’s final playoff berth.
A final playoff spot is not the only thing that Killeen and Copperas Cove will be competing for tonight.
Bulldawgs senior Shontez Simmons, the Kangaroos’ Kadarius Marshall and Waco Midway’s James Fullbright are in the top three spots for most district rushing yards this season entering tonight’s regular season finales.
Simmons is at the forefront of the pack with 1,288 yards and 13 touchdowns. Marshall, a sophomore, is only 51 yards behind Simmons with 1,237 and 11 touchdowns.
Fullbright rounds out the top three with 1,146 yards and 16 touchdowns.
Marshall is averaging 7.5 yards per carry compared to Simmons, who is averaging 9.4 yards a carry.
And while the Bulldawgs will end the season with a winning record for the first time since 2014, when they went 7-4 overall, Alvarez and his team are not ready to call it quits.
“Like I always tell them,” Alvarez said, “the next game is the biggest one we’ve got.”