Bulldawgs face Roos tonight with playoff implication
By TJ MAXWELL
The Copperas Cove Bulldawgs (4-4 overall and 2-2 in District 8-6A) have control of their playoff destiny after a much needed win over the Harker Heights Knights last Thursday at Leo Buckley Stadium.
The Dawgs can secure that playoff spot with a win at home tonight against the pass-happy Killeen Kangaroos, led by senior dual-threat quarterback Marcellus Johnson.
“It’s going to be a great game,” said Copperas Cove head football coach and thletic director Jack Welch. “Killeen is going to be tough and they are going to bring it at us. They do all kinds of stuff. They’ll throw a throwback pass, they do reverses, they do reverse passes and they’ll do the funky sets with the linemen on one side and the receivers on the other. They are going to do whatever it takes to win this ball game.”
Johnson is second in district in both pass attempts and completions with 229 and 129, respectively, for nine touchdowns. Johnson is also among the top three rushers of the district with 804 yards and seven scores on 117 carries.
Johnson likes to mix it up in the passing game with three receivers ranked in the district’s top five.
Junior D.J. Dormeus has 43 catches for 528 yards and three scores for the third spot, followed by senior Montego Mucklevaney (42 catches for 586 and three scores) and Zion Love (35 catches for 429 yards and four scores).
Despite tossing the ball all over the field, it has mostly been between the 20s with only 10 passing touchdowns on the year between Johnson and senior Bo Buckley.
The offense is averaging just 17 points per contest through district play and just 20.5 on the season despite averaging a third-best 375.5 yards of offense per game.
Conversely, the defense is near the bottom of the district in yards allowed with 367.4. Only Belton gives up more yardage at 397.9 per game.
The defense has given up nearly 1,700 yards in eight games so they are susceptible to the pass but the defensive backs are ball hawks, however, with a third-best nine interceptions, led by junior Willie McGee’s five takeaways.
“Defensively, the guys are very stingy,” said Welch. “They play fast and they have a lot of players back. I believe they have seven returning starters coming back. They come at you and put a lot of pressure on you.”
The Bulldawg defenders are no slouches either with six interceptions; led by junior Tommy Connell’s two. The Dawgs are the third-best in district against the run, surrendering just 175.6 yards per contest. Only Killeen (160.4) and Midway (165.1) give up fewer yards on the ground.
The Dawgs are also fourth best against the pass, surrendering 182.4 yards per game for a total of 1,459 yards but 745 of those yards came in two games against state-ranked A&M Consolidated in the season opener and to state-ranked Midway in the district opener.
The Dawgs have surrendered just 119 yards passing per game in the other six contests and held their opponents under 100 yards in two games.
While Johnson is the only Killeen running back in the top 15, the Bulldawgs have four in the top 15, including speedster junior Shontez Simmons. He leads all Cove’s backs with 77 carries for 606 yards and nine touchdowns while senior Tim Edwards adds 232 yards and five scores on 80 carries, senior Dylan Taijeron adds 308 yards and a score on 51 carries and senior quarterback Jaylen Smith adds 272 yards and three touchdowns on 48 carries.
Smith is also third best in district in pass attempts (186), completions (113) and touchdowns with 11. Midway’s Tanner Mordecai leads the district with 150 of 258 passes for 24 touchdowns in front of Killeen’s Johnson. Smith ties Mordecai in interceptions with seven.
Smith’s favorite targets are senior Floyd Connell (54 catches for 667 yards and six touchdowns) and senior Bryce Ranes (32 catches for 332 yards and a score).
A win tonight will put the Dawgs in a tie for third with the loser of last night’s Ellison (3-1) vs Belton (3-1) matchup (results not available at press time).
“We’ve got to keep our minds focused,” sad Welch. “The bottom line is we’ve got to be ready because these guys are fighting for their lives. All these teams are fighting to be in the playoffs. People ask me about playoff scenarios but I’m just thinking about this ball game.
“One thing gets us to the playoffs and that’s winning Friday night. Let’s win (tonight) and get ready for the next game.”
The Dawgs close out the regular season next Friday against Belton at Tiger Stadium.