By Jon Garrett
Killeen Daily Herald
COPPERAS COVE If any doubt remained about the identity of the team to beat in District 13-5A going into Friday night, Copperas Cove erased it with extreme prejudice in a 56-21 win over Shoemaker.
It wasn't the fact that the Bulldawgs won the game that was impressive they were favored after all, but how they did it, and more important, the statement Cove made in one of the most dominating first-half performances in Texas football this season.
"Everything really did come together," Cove coach Jack Welch said. "I mean the rush on the punt ... our offense was clicking, we weren't giving up many turnovers, having any penalties or mistakes. We were playing very solid."
"That's what we've been preaching to our kids about. Don't play for the scoreboard. Play to become the best you can be, play up to your capability."
That is exactly what the Dawgs seemed to do.
After 24 minutes of play, the score on the Leo Buckley Stadium scoreboard read 50-15 in favor of the visiting team. Enough for most people to realize the game had been a blowout up to that point, but wholly inadequate in describing the degree to which the Dawgs had commanded the 100 yards of real estate between the goal posts against the Grey Wolves.
For 15:05 of possession time, Cove's offense moved the ball and scored at will. For the other 8:55 when Shoemaker had the ball, the Dawgs defense was just as apt to put another six, seven or even eight points on the board.
Led by Donald Buckram, who neared the century mark with 82 yards in the period, the offense scored on its first five possessions of the game, only faltering on its final drive of the quarter because the team judiciously let time run out instead of calling for a timeout and adding insult to injury.
On the other side of the ball, the defense was nothing short of spectacular. Jeremy McDonald's 18-yard touchdown scramble on a fumble recovery was just one of many highlights, including interceptions by Tim Atchison and Tim Roy to set up TD drives, and limiting Shoemaker to three first downs for the half.
Then there was Cove's special teams, which set the tone for the game 1:14 in when sophomore Joseph Leary recovered the ball in the end zone following a blocked punt by senior defensive lineman Andrew Good.
If it hadn't been for a valiant effort by Grey Wolves running back Chris Poullard, who scored one touchdown and set up another, breaking away on two runs for 109 yards, Shoemaker would have gone into the locker rooms with only 59 yards of offense, compared to 299 for the Dawgs (176 rushing, 123 passing).
Its what Welch had been looking for out of his team for the whole season, a total team effort.
"If we hadn't gotten it going earlier and without the turnovers, it probably would have been a different game," said Poullard, a junior who led the Grey Wolves in rushing after tallying up 189 yards on the night.
Contact Jon Garrett at firstname.lastname@example.org