By Jon Garrett
Killeen Daily Herald
Memorize the statistics, take into account rankings, evaluate the personnel and scout all you want, but trying to pick a winner in the Texas high school football playoffs is about as scientific and as much a sure thing, as throwing on your lucky underwear, rolling to Las Vegas and throwing down a month's salary on "green" on the roulette wheel.
Often times, the best-case scenario is to find a common denominator between the teams, a squad that has faced both units and knows a little bit about what makes them tick.
Harker Heights is that link between Copperas Cove (10-1) and Cedar Park (9-2).
The Knights faced off with the Timberwolves in the first week of the season, handing the team one of its two losses this season, and coach Ross Rogers, who has matched wits with Cedar Park coach Mark Weaver since the late 1970s, believes that his squad was a little lucky to make it out with a 38-17 victory at Leo Buckley Stadium in their season opener against the T-Wolves.
"I thought we were fortunate we beat Cedar Park. A lot of times those scores are really deceiving," he said, pointing out that four of his team's scores came from 50-plus yards out. "I thought that Cedar Park was a real good football team."
That said, Rogers believes that the matchup between the two teams, though Cove beat the Knights 23-13 in the fourth week of the season, will be a close one.
"They (the Timberwolves) have good players in the right positions and they've kind of settled into what they're going to do now," he said.
That statement seems to be supported by the fact that Cedar Park has only allowed opponents about 12.4 points per game this year since giving up a season-high 38 against Heights.
It's an assessment Ellison coach Bret Boyd agrees with.
The Class 4A Eagles fell to the T-Wolves 23-8 early in the season and Boyd said even then he knew that Weaver had a solid football team on his hands.
"If they could keep things together and continue to improve, I knew that they would be very competitive," Boyd said. "They weren't real fancy, but they were very sound. They had good football players and wouldn't make any mistakes that's the thing that stood out in my mind."
He added that while the offensive line wasn't exceptionally big, it was extremely quick and had good technique and optimized the team's vaunted rushing attack.
"Those two backs they've got just found the creases," Boyd said.
Still, despite Cedar Park stepping up things defensively and the team's two 1,000-plus-yard rushers (quarterback Korey Washington and running back Rupert Edwards), Rogers gives Cove the nod when it comes to the bottom line of who will be victorious tonight.
"I've been impressed with Copperas Cove since they played Killeen, and obviously they've gotten better and better," the Knight's coach said. "I see it as a pretty even matchup, but I would still give the edge to Copperas Cove."
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