COPPERAS COVE — It is the culmination of spring training, but there is no celebration.
It has a fancy name, but it is merely a scrimmage.
For all the anticipation surrounding Copperas Cove’s annual spring game, to the Bulldawgs, it is merely another practice.
“We call it the Blue-Gold Game,” Copperas Cove head coach Jack Welch said, “but we try to have one each week. It is just a regular practice.”
While spring training goes a long way toward building familiarity and cohesion between players and schools’ spring games are often viewed as a barometer for the upcoming season, Welch approaches every practice and scrimmage with the same intensity.
Although Welch has no out-of-the-ordinary expectations for tonight’s Blue-Gold Game, which will begin at 6 p.m. at Bulldawg Stadium, he knows exactly what he wants to see.
“We take all (four of our scrimmages) and look at the technique the kids were putting forth,” Welch said. “Technique is the biggest thing I look for coming out of this ballgame.”
Through the first three scrimmages, including last week’s introduction to Hood Stadium, where the Bulldawgs will play three District 8-5A games during the upcoming season, Welch believes the team is developing as expected.
Copperas Cove is undergoing some significant changes on offense. The unit is rebuilding its offensive line, which was responsible for leading the Bulldawgs to the district’s third-best rushing attack, while helping the team average 447 yards per game.
Additionally, the Bulldawgs are searching for a new quarterback to inherit the position, following the graduation of Robbie Seybold, who committed to play at Mary Hardin-Baylor. The race appears to be narrowed down to Manny Harris and Devon Hopkins after each led their respective junior varsity teams to undefeated records this season.
“It’s fun,” rising senior receiver Hunter McVeigh said. “We are all working together and having new people is exciting.”
While McVeigh is enjoying the creation process, Welch believes no amount of spring practices or 7-on-7, which begins for the Bulldawgs on Saturday morning, will reveal his team’s true identity.
“Our focus, of course, is to be state-caliber strong,” Welch said. “We’re not quite there. We’ve got a lot of new faces. … Those first few weeks (of fall) are going to be real critical.”
Like the offensive line, Copperas Cove’s defense is acclimating a number of new players into key roles. Defensive tackle Billy Hatten and linebacker Darius McClinton both graduated after receiving all-district first team recognition, while departed defensive tackle Darian Childers, linebacker Karim Sarhani and safety DeMarkos White each landed on the second team.
One area Welch feels extremely confident in, however, is the kicking game.
Jayson Stanley has impressed during spring training, consistently connecting on field goals during scrimmages, including a personal best 55-yard attempt last week at Hood Stadium.
Like his coach, though, Stanley refuses to get too worked up over the accomplishment, focusing instead on maintaining a consistent approach.
“(Every practice and scrimmage) is the same as every other one,” Stanley said. “I still work hard, and the whole team still works hard. It helps the whole team out and keeps everyone on the same page.”