Bulldawg football exudes excitement for decades
When was the last time a high school football game left you spent, worn out and drenched with sweat, knowing you’d witnessed a masterpiece?
Admittedly, I’m luckier than a lot of fans, having spent 39-plus years with the Copperas Cove Bulldawgs on Friday nights, with a few Thursdays thrown in, doing the radio calls of some wild contests and, yes, a few games I’d rather forget. After last week’s roller coaster ride with Midway, memories came rushing back of past crazy nights and whispered “Joe… Why not do a top-10 exciting games list?” Like that guy on the insurance commercial, I’ve seen a thing or two, so..you got it.
Obviously, there’ll be disagreements, but this is how I remember it, so here we go...but first, some dates and names have become a little fuzzy over time, so keep an eye out for these symbols: i.t. = I think and i.p.s. = I’m pretty sure.
No. 10 - Cove hadn’t had much luck against the Killeen schools as of 1986. In fact, the Dawgs were nine years into their series with Ellison and had lost all previous games. Hal Mumme was the head coach and with the Eagles up 28-22 with 35 seconds left, quarterback Dustin Dewald hit wideout Ricky Ellis for 55 yards and a 29-28 win. Exciting? Need you ask?
No. 9 - On Dec. 15, 2007 (i.t.), the Dawgs played Lamar Consolidated in Round Rock for the Class 4A state title and were ahead 14-13 with little time remaining, when Consol scatback Jaquizz Rogers found a sliver of daylight and was long gone, dashing Bulldawg hopes.
No. 8 - A Friday night in 1996 at Bulldawg Stadium had Copperas Cove hosting Georgetown with future Copperas Cove assistant coach Jeremy Shannon as the Dawg quarterback. Shannon led a furious late rally to earn Cove a 42-36 win. I was so excited I was telling people I loved them on air.
No. 7 - This was one the Bulldawgs came up short in, but it was a nailbiter. In 1994, we had Marble Falls in town and Cove had a sizable lead, until Mustang quarterback Stan Whyttle brought his team back in the closing moments and edged the Dawgs in a 34-33 heartbreaker. I ran into Stan years later in Lampasas when he was a Marble Falls assistant baseball coach and he well remembered “The opera in Coppera,” as he put it.
No. 6 - It was a dreary, foggy night at TCU’s Amon Carter Stadium on that 1998 Friday. Cove was in the playoffs for the first time since 1960 and were heavy underdogs to state-ranked Arlington Lamar, but that didn’t stop John McDonald, Charles Tillman, Vontez Duff, Bryan Mickan and company from turning the pundits on their heads with a 27-24 win and first-ever (i.t.) bi-district championship. If the Ft. Worth cable company hadn’t had their cameras on, we couldn’t have seen the game from 16 stories up. That was one tall press box!
No. 5 - Temple solidly had the Bulldawgs’ number, with wins of 65-0, 70-0, etc. over the years, but things changed on that 1988 night at Bulldawg Stadium. Cove broke the Wildcat jinx with a 28-21 win, which earned head coach Mumme a Gatorade bath, even though he was wearing a sharp Bulldawg blue blazer, shirt and tie. There was even a newspaper picture of a drenched head coach accepting congratulations from then CCISD superintendent Dr. Richard Kirkpatrick.
No. 4 - In 1982, Copperas Cove had yet to defeat Killeen High in a series that reached back to 1976, but Bulldawg Stadium was the scene of change that season. Late in the fourth quarter, Cove had a 13-12 lead, but the Kangaroos were driving. Outside the press box window, we could see and hear future Cove mayor Roger O’Dwyer leading the crowd in a chant of “Defense! Defense!” Killeen, aided by back-to-back penalties, moved into field goal position with time left for one play. The kick went up...wide left! Pandemonium!
No. 3 - It was Halloween Night, 1980 (i.p.s.) at Paul Tyson Field in Waco and the Richfield Rams had, as so many teams did, picked the Bulldawgs as their homecoming guest. Fourth quarter, Richfield up 7-0, Bulldawg quarterback Tony Diaz scored, then hit Robin Riley with a two-point conversion pass..Dawgs win 8-7, break a 28-game losing streak and touch off a huge Bulldawg Stadium parking lot celebration.
No. 2 - You know the story here. Last Friday, in a wild and crazy rumble, the Bulldawgs and Midway Panthers slugged it out for four quarters, with Midway prevailing 49-45. Get the whole story in our Bulldawg Edition.
And now..the most exciting Bulldawg game I recall:
No. 1 - A Bulldawg Stadium Friday night in 2005 and the Dawgs were hosting perennial state power Converse Judson. All game long, things were as tight as my ex-boss’s wallet, but late in the fourth, with little time left, Dawg quarterback Brent Garner lofted a fade route pass to the end zone’s back left corner where a Bulldawg snared it and Cove goes up 20-19. An onside kick recovery by the Dawgs sealed the win. I was excited. So much so, I jumped up on my swivel chair, then went butt over teakettle to the floor, causing raucous laughter and applause from the fans seated right below. Thank goodness I didn’t go through the window and land on somebody.
One to grow on...the Dawgs nipped Temple 7-0 in 1994, a win for first-year head coach Jack Welch and an omen of future Bulldawg things to come.
Yes, I’ve seen a thing or two.