Bulldawg Football begins Alvarez era
By TJ MAXWELL
The excitement was palpable at the third day of practice for the Copperas Cove Bulldawg football team.
For the first time in nearly a quarter of a century, there is a brand new voice at the top and a new level of excitement surrounding the program.
Senior quarterback Easton Simpson likes the new vibe and is excited about getting the season underway.
“I feel like we’re going to shock the world,” said Simpson. “The team is coming together. We’re learning all these new plays and it’s much more advanced than last year. I feel like we’re ready to shock the world this year.”
First-year head coach and athletic director Jack Alvarez knows this is a work in progress with so many new faces and not much time to prepare before their district slate opens on Sept. 14 at Belton.
“It’s like Smokey and the Bandit,” said Alvarez. “We’ve got a long way to go and a short time to get there. We’ve got a lot to do and we don’t have long to do it.
“We need to work on everything. Confidence-wise, I think we’re going to see some leaders emerge. I see four or five guys trying to step up and lead. I’m going to have to see some guys play before I can make any decisions. I have to see us actually full go to see what Dawgs will bite and what Dawgs won’t, what Dawgs will make plays and what Dawgs can’t. Once we figure that out.”
One of the new features coming with Alvarez is what he calls the “Coryell County Fair” which is a series of drills and separate stations separated by a sprint in between that is designed to boost the players conditioning and discipline.
“The Coryell County Fair has been showing up and you saw what kind of little rides we had,” said Alvarez. The first day was really, really bad. As we went on, the kids were starting to understand what kind of encouragement we want and what kind of effort.
“It has been good seeing them buy in. They are buying in and a lot of that credit goes to the older guys and the coaches. The leaders are leading, and I think that’s a good thing. That will help everybody buy in.”
Simpson feels like team bonding is a crucial factor in the team’s development on both sides of the ball.
“Defensively, the players have just got to come together,” he said. “We have to be more of a team. Other than that, they’re quick, fast and tough to go against.
“Offensively, it’s the same thing. We’ve all got to come together as a team more and we’ve all got to learn the plays a little better. It has only been three days, but I feel like once we all become one as a team, we’ll be unstoppable.”
Defender Jalen Brown also likes the new feel of the squad.
“It’s been great,” he said. The team is working hard and working together. It has been fast-paced and I love it. The team is doing great.
“It feels great. Everybody is working together, getting along and working hard. The coaches are doing a great job coaching us up and I think it’s a great improvement to the team.”
Team communication and hustle are key factors of success for Brown and his defensive counterparts.
“The defense is doing really good,” he said. “We’re working hard. The biggest improvements we need to work on is communication and we just need to fly to the ball.”
Overall, Alvarez likes what he has seen so far and looks forward to seeing his guys in action.
“I’m very impressed with the kids so far and what they’re trying to do,” said Alvarez. “We’re still looking for players. We’re going to have a little inter-squad this weekend and two scrimmages. Hopefully, by the end of that last scrimmage, we’ll be a little closer to nailing down personnel and by that second pre-district game, we’ve got to be on point and have the right guys on the field.
“There is a lot of evaluating going on, a lot of film watching and a lot of teaching going on – not only about football plays but expectations of effort, attitude and physical and mental toughness.”
The offense will rely on beef along the front line and speed in the backfield with returning running back senior Shontez Simmons and senior speedster Elijah De La Cruz leading and quick and fast running back corps.
“The run game is extremely important,” said Simpson. “The more we run, the more teams will bite on that and it will leave the passing game wide open. The run game has become the most pivotal part of our offense. If we can kill people on the run, then we will kill them on the pass all day.”
Alvarez will get his first look at full speed at Saturday’s Shampoo, Soap and Towel Scrimmage at Bulldawg Stadium beginning at 7 a.m.