That’s the best way to sum up fourth-ranked Ellison’s 43-17 destruction of the unbeaten Copperas Cove Bulldogs Friday at Leo Buckley Stadium. It’s hard to fathom how the Eagles have lost. They run. They throw. They’re tough as nails defensively and they’re unbelievably fast. They made a very good football team look not so good.
— Mark W. Miller, Killeen Daily Herald, Oct. 18, 1998.
That was 15 years ago.
Friday, Killeen made everyone say “Wow” once again.
The Killeen offensive line dominated the line of scrimmage, paving the way for Daniel McCants’ six touchdowns and 276 yards rushing on 42 carries en route to Killeen’s 47-38 upset over Cove.
It was the first time since Ellison’s 1998 win over the Bulldawgs that a KISD team beat the squad. And it was Killeen’s first win over the Dawgs since 1995, a dominating 37-14 win.
The next season, Cove won 14-13. In 1997, they won 15-12.
Then that same year the Bulldawgs lost to Ellison, they defeated the Roos 58-0.
It was a far cry from what used to be reality.
Going into the Oct. 17, 1998, game, the Eagles had beaten Cove 18 times in 20 meetings. Cove won 29-28 in 1986 and played the Eagles to a 13-13 tie in 1994.
While Cove’s program had improved every year, Welch said at the time that he felt his players realized that there is still another level and “they’ve got to rise up to it.”
From there on out, the Dawgs did.
Yes, they got lucky as an influx of talent came to Copperas Cove — Robert Griffin III, Josh Boyce, Vontez Duff, Orlando Thomas.
But it does not really matter if the Bulldawgs have been that good for the last 15 or 18 years or if KISD has been that down since.
All that matters is that it is over.
The win ends the Kangaroos’ 11-game losing streak to Cove. And it ends 15 years of frustration and heartbreak for Killeen.
The Roos needed this win.
Not just Killeen High, though. The entire city needed it; the entire school district. Ever since that last win by Ellison, the inferiority complex has grown over the last 15 years.
The excuses were many: The schools were split up, the military influence, the Dawgs steal all of the best players while they are in middle school and the administration does not care.
All of the excuses had a bit of validity.
But the reality was this: The Bulldawgs for all of those years were the better team on the field and won the games they needed to win.
Friday, Killeen was the better team.
Few expected the streak to be broken anytime soon. I didn’t think a KISD team would break the streak this season, but not because this is great Cove team. Entering Friday night, the only KISD team that was not 0-3 was Shoemaker, a team that is two seasons removed from losing 31 games in a row.
Friday, though, it happened the same way it did in 1998.
“I don’t think it was a matter of intensity because we were very intense. The bottom line is Ellison’s got a good ballclub. We got whipped in the trenches there early and I think you’ve got to applaud them.”
— Jack Welch, Oct. 18, 1998.
Then, it was Reggie Duncan. The 5-9, 215-pound senior running back rushed for 206 yards on 13 carries before grabbing a seat on the bench in the third quarter after his 36-yard run made it 33-7.
He had 174 yards at halftime, including runs of 62 and 42.
Friday night, it was Daniel McCants.
The senior running back did what all those before him could not — take down Copperas Cove.
He credited his offensive line. But just having a good offensive line does not make an average back run for 276 yards and six touchdowns.
The back has to be special.
McCants is special.
Sure, Cove’s defense was also more susceptible than it has been in the past. It gave up 44 points to A&M Consolidated and was not dominant against Waco — especially in defending kickoffs.
But they had not been that bad against the run. However, McCants and the Roos exploited Cove’s defensive front all night long.
Again, and I say this to all the college recruiters who have not been giving him a fair shake because he is a bit undersized, McCants is special.
He and his ridiculous six touchdowns made this win possible.
After the Roos’ second loss of the season, I stood on the turf at Leo Buckley Stadium with Jones. Killeen was 0-2 and it looked like it was going to be a rebuilding year.
But, although Killeen coach Sam Jones was disappointed by the loss, he was not fazed by it.
He still had hope. He saw a glimmer of potential. So he was, as always, focused on getting ready for district.
That, he said, is a new season.
And now it really is.
“Our kids felt comfortable in what we had worked on, and they just came out and executed well. The kids just did a great job. I’m so proud, I can’t believe it.”
— Sam Jones, Sept. 27, 2013