MANOR — The process is being accelerated.

After opening its season in impressive fashion with a well-rounded victory against Mexico’s Universidad Autonoma de Nuevo Leon last week, Copperas Cove returned to the field Friday aiming to build on the performance.

It did not happen.

Despite escaping Manor with a 7-6 win, several aspects of the Bulldawgs’ game suffered in new head coach Jack Alvarez’s second showing with the program, and following the contest, he admitted something needs to change.

“We’re still on page one or two when it comes to our execution,” Alvarez said, “and we need to be on page 25 or 30.”

In addition to being shut out of the end zone for the final 39 minutes, 45 seconds of the game, Copperas Cove amassed 120 penalty yards on a dozen infractions, lost three fumbles, including a pair inside the Mustangs’ red zone, and allowed an average of 5.2 yards per carry.

Entering his first season with the Bulldawgs, Alvarez expected to encounter a learning curve as the coaching staff and players melded into a cohesive unit, but he also understands time is expiring.

Copperas Cove embarks on its eight-game District 12-6A schedule Friday, traveling to Belton, where the Bulldawgs clinched a playoff berth last year by beating the Tigers 37-35 in the regular season finale.

“We just have to keep our foot on the gas pedal,” Alvarez said. “We’re going to have to keep pushing these kids and driving them.

“It’s going to be a long district, and we’ve just got to withstand the storm.”

While it was not a flawless outing, Copperas Cove delivered highlights against Manor as well.

Simmons followed a 132-yard, two-touchdown showing against the Tigres with a game-high 104 yards and posted the Bulldawgs’ lone score versus the Mustangs. The defense forced and recovered a game-clinching fumble in the final 90 seconds, and the special teams blocked a punt in the first quarter before helping thwart a two-point conversion attempt in the fourth quarter.

Most importantly, Copperas Cove (2-0) won despite having seven of its 10 possessions end with a punt or turnover.

“Defense wins championships,” Alvarez said, “and we won with our defense. Somewhere down the line, your defense has to win a game for you, and then you can start counting on them, and it allows you to take some chances.

“I’m just really proud of the defense.”

The Tigers, who are coming off a 45-24 victory against Round Rock, will test the Bulldawgs’ defenders. Belton (1-1) reached the end zone six times against the Dragons, recording 521 total yards of offense behind a trio of playmakers.

Running back Dean Blondmonville carried the ball 17 times for 167 yards and two touchdowns, while quarterback Connor Carothers completed 19 of 27 passes for 272 yards and four scores, connecting with Denver Holman seven times, including three touchdowns, for 149 yards.

Regardless of matchups or recent performances, the fact remains Alvarez must prepare his players for district competition despite being only two games into their relationship.

So, the process is being accelerated.

“I’m going to take this situation and be positive with it,” Alvarez said. “I’m going to coach hard on the things I didn’t like, and I’m going to love the kids up on the things I did like.”

Contact Clay Whittington at clayw@kdhnews.com

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