It has been 17 years since Ellison last beat Copperas Cove, and the Bulldawgs have won the last 11 meetings between the two.
Although the Eagles are treating it like any other important game, those are numbers senior quarterback Carl Robinson III and the players are very aware of, according to senior wide receiver X’zavier Green.
“It’s a big game, our Homecoming game,” Green said. “Carl told me we haven’t beaten Cove in 17 years, but every game is a big game to win. We’re 0-0 going into this week, and we’re just trying to get to 1-0.”
After last week’s open date, Ellison enters tonight’s 7 p.m. contest at Leo Buckley Stadium against the Dawgs with a pristine record of 5-0 (1-0 District 8-6A), but is mentally focused on taking it game by game in order to achieve greater success.
“We feel good about being 5-0 and everything, but we want to be better,” Green said.
The Eagle offense has been a high-flying unit that has averaged just over 44 points and 398 yards per game.
Robinson has commandeered their offense under center by averaging 261 yards each contest through the air, and he has also accumulated 24 total touchdowns — 20 passing and four rushing.
Green, Ellison’s leading receiver with 35 catches for 518 yards and six touchdowns, spearheads a pass-catching corps that possesses a bevy of big-play talent.
“We are four-deep at receiver,” Green said. “We have four all-district receivers right here at Ellison. Everybody has to be ready to go at any moment. We’ve got more than we need, I think, personally.”
Fellow senior Jayden Smith has hauled in nine passes for 362 yards and five scores for an incredible average of 40 yards per catch. Junior Jyaire Shorter has 334 receiving yards and three touchdowns on 18 catches, and junior Tavon Gwynn has 18 catches for 237 yards and five scores.
Gwynn had likely his finest game thus far two weeks ago in the Eagles’ league opener against Shoemaker. He caught three passes for 68 yards, two of which were scoring receptions of 14 and 35 yards to help lift his team to a 24-21 win over the Grey Wolves.
But Ellison needed some help from its special teams in the victory.
On their final offensive drive, the Eagle offense traveled 34 yards on eight plays to reach the Shoemaker 15-yard line. Junior place-kicker Morgan Button then calmly nailed a 32-yard field goal with three seconds left to keep their record unblemished.
But each week presents a new challenge in 8-6A, and Cove comes calling tonight wrapped in a rich tradition that includes a 12-year run of consecutive playoff berths.
The Dawgs (3-2, 1-1) possess a balanced offense that features talented quarterbacks in senior Caine Garner and junior Jaylen Smith, as well as receivers Floyd Connell, Kendall Small, Josh Canete and Gabe Williams.
Cove’s offense will test Ellison’s defense that features seniors Tiryek West, Cameron Leatherwood, Marquis Tezino, DaMarqus Goodson, Tariq McKenzie and Josiah Dykes, among others.
But if the Eagle defenders can get themselves off the field on third downs and prevent the Dawgs from enjoying extensive offensive drives, Ellison could be in position to end its 11-game drought against tonight’s visitors.