Copperas Cove Bulldawgs open football season against similar opponent in Waxahachie Indians

By TJ MAXWELL

Cove Leader-Press

 

Tonight’s season opener between the Copperas Cove Bulldawgs and Waxahachie Indians will be a true test of who was able to improve over the COVID-19 affected offseason as both teams are coming off a losing season and coming into the 2020 campaign under new leadership. Both teams 

The Indians finished 2-8 overall and 1-6 in district play last year under former head coach and NFL quarterback Jon Kitna who now takes the head coaching spot at Burleson.

First-year head coach Todd Alexander will look to get the Indians back on track with wide receiver Brandon Hawkins leading a group of 13 returning starters. The senior wide receiver returns after a 1,130-yard, 14-touchdown season a year ago. The question for the Indians will be who will get him the ball as senior quarterback Casey Kelly had one completion on three attempts last year and sophomore quarterback Roderick Hartsfield is new to the varsity.

The Bulldawgs, under first-year AD/HC Jason Hammett, have the opposite problem as both returning quarterbacks, senior Russel Cochran and junior Shane Richey, saw playing time last in an injury-plagued 3-7 season but graduated their core group of receivers from a year ago and must find new targets. A couple guys looking to fill that role are seniors Qeijon Donnell and Tyrez Reynolds.

Both squads bolster an anchoring offensive lineman in junior Brent Martin and Justin Cuellar for the Indians and McKenzie Agnello and 6-ffot-8, 360-pound Rictavius Moore for the Bulldawgs.

The Waxahachie backfield also returns some experience in running backs D.J. Jackson and Shawn Cherry with Jackson leading last year’s squad with 503 yards and two touchdowns on 131 carries.

The secondary appears to be the strength on the defensive side for the Indians as all-district cornerback Preston Hodge and safety Quincy Johnson return.

The Bulldawgs have a lot of depth at the running back position with seniors Brandon Ortega, Brody Sanders, and Josiah Key expected to share the load with a pair of sophomores Warren Fleming and Craig Brown also showing the ability to make a big impact.

Linebacker and the interior defensive line appear to be the strength for the Dawgs’ defense heading into the matchup as both starting linebackers return for the 2020 campaign, including the leading tackler from last year senior Kendal Parker (71 total tackles, 13.5 tackles for losses). Junior Benny Shumaker had 24 tackles with seven tackles for losses as a sophomore last year. The interior defensive line is anchored by senior Thomas Holman, Jr. 

Both coaches should know a lot more about their teams after tonight. Both teams have a lot to prove after losing campaigns a year ago and getting picked to finish seventh out of eight teams in their respective district.

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