By Jon Garrett
Killeen Daily Herald
COPPERAS COVE The Copperas Cove Bulldawgs spring football game provided fans with their first glimpse of the future of the program Friday as the White team, led by starting quarterback Brent Garner and tailback Donald Buckram, ran its way to a 24-7 victory over the Blue team at Bulldawg Stadium.
Garner was 3-for-11 through the air for 25 yards passing and picked up 85 yards on the ground while Buckram, a 1,000-yard rusher last year, looked to be in top form despite a nagging hamstring injury, rushing for 101 yards on 11 carries.
The duo accounted for all three of the team's touchdowns and Garner, who will share kicking duties with all-district kicker Kyle Mathews next year, punched in a field goal from 52 yards out for their second score of the game.
It was an impressive performance, considering how well the two stars from last year did could be attributed directly to the protection they got from the offensive line a line that is in the process of being rebuilt.
However, for Dawgs' head coach Jack Welch there were more important factors to consider with the game than whether or not two of his star players from last year's 10-2 squad could still get the job done.
"The game was good. Nobody got hurt," said a smiling Welch as he grabbed a plate of food served up by the Quarterback Club after the contest. "We played pretty base offense and defense but we had a lot of fun."
For Welch that "fun" included seeing players step up and perform.
On offense, in addition to Garner and Buckram, he offered praise to Jerrard Milsap.
"He had some good little runs," Welch said of Milsap, who juked his way to 18 yards and the third highest rushing total for the day.
Freshman Robert Griffin, who quarterbacked the Blue team, also earned accolades.
"He threw the ball well. That shows his promise," Welch said.
Griffin, who finished the day 1-for-7 passing and with minus 4 yards on the ground, connected with Travis Wheeler on a 44-yard scoring pass for his team's lone score.
"He's too good to sit on the sideline," Welch said, noting that Griffin and Wheeler are the team's top two backups at quarterback but the squad would like to get quality snaps out of Wheeler at receiver next season. "We'll try to get him on the field either at receiver or in some type of back situation."
Defensively, stalwarts Tim Atchison and Sterling Lewis were as solid as ever and Welch liked the way Mario Goins looked at corner after playing receiver last year. Raphael Chavez and lineman Michael Cirilo also played well according to the coach.
The White team got things started in the bottom of the first quarter scoring on a 3-yard blast by Buckram on fourth-and-goal to go up 7-0 after a Garner extra point with 1 minute, 43 seconds to go in the eight minute quarter.
Garner tacked on the 52 yard field goal on fourth-and-10 with 4:21 on the clock in the second quarter, after his squad was stopped on the ground following a 37-yard run by Buckram to put it in Blue territory.
Down 10-0 Griffin's team responded with a six-play scoring drive of its own, capped by the 44-yard strike to Wheeler with 2:09 until the break. A Mathews extra point cut the White team's lead to three (10-7).
A 5:51 drive in the third punctuated by a 1-yard Buckram scoring run gave the White team some cushion, and Garner closed the book on the Blue team with a 19-yard scramble late in the fourth for the final touchdown.
The game marked the last action for the squad until fall practice begins. Copperas Cove kicks off the 2005-06 season against Killeen Aug.. 16, at Copperas Cove.
Contact Jon Garrett at firstname.lastname@example.org