Bulldawgs hold annual intersquad scrimmage
By TJ MAXWELL
Long-awaited familiar sights and sounds filled Bulldawg Stadium on Saturday morning as the 2020 version of the Copperas Cove Bulldawgs football squad got after each other in their annual intersquad scrimmage.
With the pandemic wiping out spring ball, this was the first real opportunity for first-year Copperas Cove athletic director and head football coach Jason Hammett to get to evaluate his squad in action.
“We’re going to have to look at the film and see some things, but this is really the first time these kids have hit since Temple last year,” Hammett said after the scrimmage. “In a normal year, we would have gone through spring ball. Some of the same evaluations we’re doing right now, we would have been doing them in the first week of May or something. Everybody is in the same boat with this. Everybody is moving fast.”
Both sides of the ball showed flashes as the offense took advantage early and the defense got the upper hand late.
“We are a young team, but I thought overall our offense came out pretty good,” said Hammett. “We executed a lot of really good plays early on then we kind of faded away offensively. We got a little tired and sowed our depth a little bit.
“On defense, it was kind of the opposite. They were getting used to us for a few minutes, then they started playing a little faster and more physical with us.”
The scrimmage began with a six-play scoring drive capped by a quarterback keeper by senior Russel Cochran from about 16 yards out for the first score of the morning.
“It feels good to actually be out here running some plays,” said Cochran. “It’s been a long time coming.
The defense then responded on the next drive with tackles for losses and a sack of junior quarterback Shane Richey to slow the second drive of the morning. Seniors Branden Jackson and Kendal Parker were in on the defensive plays.
“It feels great,” Parker said about finally getting in some playing time. “I can’t wait until we get in the real action.
“We started off slow, but we picked it up at the end. We’ve always got to finish strong.”
Richey then found a weakness in the defense with a 46-yard screen pass for a touchdown to senior running back Brandon Ortega.
Richey got in on the scoring action himself with a scramble for a score from 13 yards out to end a drive led by a pair of passes and a pair of runs by Cochran that moved the Dawgs 47 yards before Richey capped the drive.
Momentum swung back to the defense when they forced the offense backwards before a sack fumble by Cochran on the sack by Parker. The defense forced another turnover on the next play when pressure by Parker resulted in an interception by Jackson.
Junior linebacker Benny Shumaker got in on the fun on the next play with a sack of his own.
“We know how each other plays, but we can’t do that without our linemen,” Parker said of his linebacking partnership with Shumaker. “We need our linemen to execute right so that we can execute right as well. A good part of that goes to them.
“We need to stay focused. We haven’t proven anything yet. We’ve just got to keep improving and getting better.”
The offense again showed sparks on the final drive with passes by Richey to seniors Brody Sanders and Tyrez Reynolds before Richey escaped for another long quarterback keeper for the score.
“It was pretty good,” Cochran said of the scrimmage. “There are some things we need to touch up as a team, but I really liked our communication and the way we worked together.”
The Dawgs will get a chance to battle someone in a different color jersey when they travel to Vandegrift for Thursday’s scrimmage.
“I’m just really excited to go against people that aren’t our friends,” said Cochran. “I’m just really excited for this year to see what it has coming.
“I just really appreciate our coaches and everything. There are a few things we need to work on, but, as a team, we’ll get up and get those fixed. I just want us to be able to work together as a team and get a few plays cleaned up.”
Hammett has some more evaluating to do at Thursday’s scrimmage, but if they play like they did Saturday, he feels confident in the results.
“If we can go down to Vandegrift and play fast and physical, we’re going to be fine,” he said. “We’re not going to game plan Vandegrift. We’re going to know basically what they’re going to do, but we’re not going to be like this is our particular play against them. Vandegrift is like a practice for us. It’s going to be how fast can we be? How physical can we be? It’s usually a little easier because they don’t know each other, and they don’t have as much pride in terms of getting beat.
“That first scrimmage is really a freeing experience for the kids. They don’t know them. They don’t have any connections to them. They just go out there and run the plays. It’s really a true test. I’m just really looking forward to evaluating these guys on Thursday.”