Bulldawgs look to bounce back from last year’s one-win season
By TJ MAXWELL
When you’re picked to finish at the bottom of the heap, there’s nowhere to go but up.
That distinction often puts a chip on the shoulders of those deemed inferior.
That’s the case for the Copperas Cove Bulldawgs football team who were picked to finish last in District 12-6A in the 2021 edition of Dave Campbell’s Texas Football Magazine.
Depite returning six starters on both sides of the ball, including two-year starter Shane Richey at quarterback, an always talented corps of running backs led by RB/TE Craig Brown and newcomer Malcolm Roberts, and some standouts on defense led by linebacker Benny Shumaker, the Bulldawgs are picked to finish eighth out of eight teams.
The 1-9 overall record and 0-7 district record (with two district forfeits) from a year ago don’t tell the whole story as the Bulldawgs have had very little spring and summer action due to a change in leadership in the program followed by the COVID-19 pandemic that interrupted the Bulldawgs’ season time and time again, including cancelling games.
The Bulldawgs will need to improve on both sides of the ball to upset those predictions as they surrendered a district-worst 36.6 points per game and scored 20 points or less in six of the eight games played.
The Bulldawgs will open their 2021-22 calender on the road against team that had a similar 2020 and also is predicted to finish last in their district in the Stony Point Tigers. The Tigers finished 2-6 overall and 1-6 in District 25-6A.
Week two will see the Bulldawgs host Georgetown (7-2, 5-1 in District 11-5A in 2020). The Eagles are picked to finish third in the district despite graduating 54 seniors in 2020 and only reurners six starters.
The Bulldawgs will close out their non-district slate on the road at Austin Bowie. Bowie finished 3-5 overall and 3-4 in District 26-6A last year, missing the playoffs for the first time since 2006. The Dawgs return 15 starters, including nine on defense.
The Bulldawgs then open up District 12-6A play at home against the Belton Tigers.
The low prediction for the Bulldawgs says as much about their competition as it does about the Dawgs.
Unsurprisingly, the Temple Wildcats are picked to win the district after going 10-2 overall and 7-0 in district on their way to being a DII Area Finalist and returning 13 of those starters. They return a host of players from last year’s playoff squad, including running back Samari Howard and quarterback Mikal Harrison-Pilot on the offensive side and LB Tauren York, DT Tomas Torres and DE Eric Shorter leading the defense.
The Harker Heights Knights are picked to finish second. They return seven players on an offense that scored more than 30 points seven times last year and two on defense from their DI Bi-District playoff team from last year that was 7-4 overall and 5-2 in District 12-6A. Wide receivers Terrance Carter and Marcus Maple combined for 22 total touchdowns and 1,580 total yards, led by Carter’s 555 receiving, 355 rushing and 15 total TDs.
The Bryan Vikings return 16 starters, including nearly the entire defense from their 2020 team that went 6-3 overall and 5-2 in District 12-6A play and were DII Bi-District Finalists. Their defense is led by LB Nic Caraway, DB Duwayne Paulhill and DE Tanner Allen.
The Shoemaker Grey Wolves are predicted to land that final playoff spot. They return four starters on offense and six on defense from their 2020 squad that went 7-3 overall and 5-2 in district play and were DI Bi-District Finalists. QB Omari Evans reurns to lead the offense along with several members of the offensive line, including Jamil Knight, Wilbert Martin and Freddy Muphy. The Wolves return sveral players along the defensive line as well, led by DE Zavion Tibbs, DE Darrion Burleson, and DL To’O To’O Maugaotega.
The Tigers are predicted to miss the playoffs for the third-consecutive season with a fifth-place prediction. The Tigers return four starters on offense and five on defense to their 2020 team that finished 3-7 overall, 3-4 in District 12-6A. Tight End Bryan Henry will lead an offense that looks to replace several weapons at quarterback and running back with 6-foot-5 sophomore Ty Brown likely to replace Ruben Jimenez. DB Aaron Bain and DE Braxton Haynes will look to anchor a defense that gave up more than 30 points per game in 2020.
The Killeen Kangaroos and Killeen Ellison Eagles are also picked to miss the playoffs in the sixth and seventh spots.
The Roos return six starters on offense and four on defense on a team that finished 3-6 overall, 2-5 in district. WR Jacobia Thomas, QB Ahmad Bailey, along with running backs Emory Arthur and DJ Johnson lead the offensive returners.
The Eagles, who finished 2-8 overall, 1-6 in district, return four starters on offense and nine on defense for new head coach and athletic coordinator Danny Servance who comes to Killeen from Odessa High School. DE Devonte Tezino, LB Calvin Harper, and DL Brendan Bett lead a host of defensive returners while offensive linemen Armondo Molina and Rance Ledet lead the offensive returners.