The Bulldawg time machine comes out of mothballs

"Big" Joe Lombardi "Cup o' Joe"


ince Doc Brown’s time-busting DeLorean from Back To The Future was only make believe and can’t transport us to 1980 like Marty McFly, I’ll have to make do with present-day Cove athletic schedules, internet archives and a 45-minute phone conversation with a former Bulldawg coach.

Copperas Cove, present day:  After scrimmaging Friday and Saturday, the Copperas Cove Lady Dawgs are tuned up and set to open their regular season with a pair of matinee matches today.  First up, the ladies face Mesquite Horn, a school well known to Dawg football fans, since we’ve faced them in the playoffs more than once.  JV action is at 2:30 p.m., followed by the varsity.  Then at 5 p.m. Cove’s junior varsity takes on Georgetown Eastview.  After watching our girls over the weekend and knowing they had only three days of actual practice, I am impressed.  They’re looking good!   

That second match with Eastview is where our time trip begins.   

Waco, Paul Tyson Field, Halloween night, 1980:  The Bulldawg football team, mired in a 26-game losing streak, has traveled North to meet up with Richfield High School as the Rams’ homecoming guest.  Cove is used to this and more than likely expected it, since there was a standing joke that Copperas Cove played six homecoming games a year..their own, plus five on the road.

In the fourth quarter, with Richfield up 7-0, Dawg quarterback Tony Diaz kept the ball around left end and scored standing up. 7-6 Richfield.

Going for the marbles, head coach Bud Burrows called a pass play known as the 313 bus route, with Diaz hitting Robin Riley for the go-ahead points.  8-7 Bulldawgs and that’s how it stayed.  The streak was broken, Cove wins!

When it became apparent there would be a happy bus ride home, the broadcast crew began urging fans to meet the team at Bulldawg Stadium on their arrival.  And they did, by the bushel basket full.

Now enters the final character in our saga.

Bulldawg Stadium parking lot, four hours after kickoff: It was a little after 11 p.m. when I got back to the stadium. Darkness covered the scene and there were people everywhere!  I was concerned for safety with that many folks jammed together.

Across town, a young Copperas Cove Junior High assistant coach named Davis Denny was just getting home from a scouting assignment when his phone rang and, in my excited tone of voice, he made out that I was asking him to please come turn on the stadium lights for safety sake.  He was there in a heartbeat and not only turned on the lights, but lit up the scoreboard with the numbers exactly where they were in Waco when the game ended.

When the team buses turned off Highway 190 and the kids saw their stadium bathed in light, to them, it was like the Texas Tower being illuminated after a win.  You could hear them coming three blocks away. 

Copperas Cove, present day: Dr. Davis Denny, who went above and beyond for the Bulldawgs that night, is now the principal at Georgetown Eastview High School. He can’t be here today for the volleyball match since his teachers and staff are in final preparations for the opening of school, but the coach and I talked for a long time Friday, reliving that Halloween night back in 1980, when the trick wasn’t on Copperas Cove.

Go Dawgs! 

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