Cove football players recognized during annual banquet
By TJ MAXWELL
The Copperas Cove Football team had a topsy-turvy season with a rash of injuries forcing many personnel changes, especially on offensive side of the ball.
Despite not finishing how they would have hoped, the Bulldawgs’ coaching staff was impressed with the intestinal fortitude shown by the players throughout the season.
“This group was very dedicated to what we were trying to get done,” said Copperas Cove athletic director and head football coach Jack Alvarez. “They were dedicated to one another, they fought for each other, they bled for each other, they cried with each other and we worked hard to get better every day. There wasn’t a state championship involved, but we did accomplish a lot.”
Several players were recognized for those efforts during the annual Bulldawg Football Banquet held last Thursday at the Copperas Cove Civic Center.
Four players were recognized for their efforts in the classroom. Seniors Joseph Harrison, Ethan Swanner and Christian Tuiasosopo were named to the Academic All-State Second Team while senior Aaron Grant received Honorable Mention
Tuiasosopo also received the Copperas Cove High School Superintendent’s Award presented by Dr. Joe Burns for the player with the highest grade-point average.
“To make Academic All State in any capacity is a huge task,” said Superintendent Burns. “If you look at the football season and the amount of time these young men put in and then to be able to keep up with your studies and earn Academic All State is a big deal.”
Senior cornerback Jerome Gaillard and senior running back Micah Cox earned the nights’ highest honors with two selections.
Cox was presented with the Team Most Valuable Player award by head coach Jack Alvarez for his efforts running and catching the ball.
“I have the honor tonight to hand the torch to this year’s MVP. He laid it on the line and gave his body up. When things got tough and we started losing players, all eyes came on him. He averaged about 168 yards per game but he didn’t have an 300-yard games, he went and got his 168 every week. He had 1,600 and something yards and 19 touchdowns. He came to work every day. He’s a fun kid to be around and a fun kid to coach.
He was also recognized for his explosiveness in the return game by assistant coach Montey Stevenson with the Special Teams Player of the Year nod. He had 14 kick returns for 493 yards and one touchdown of 96 yards.
“Every time this guy touched the ball, two things are going to happen,” said Stevenson. He’s either going to the house or setting up the offense to be in a great position to score.
Gaillard was named the Defensive Back of the Year by Stevenson.
“He’s a great young guy and always brought the energy every day at practice. He’s an obvious leader. He had 53 tackles, three tackles for a loss and three interceptions but it’s much more than that. He was an obvious leader and somebody that you could look up to as a player and a teammate.”
Air Force-bound Gaillard was also presented the Defensive MVP by defensive coordinator Cody McCauley.
“This young man was somebody we tried to gain an edge with and get that extra man in the box and the extra man in passing situations,” said McCauley. “He’s very dynamic and we tried to create matchups to get our best advantage. He’s was a huge asset for us.”
Senior Jaylin Smith was named Offensive MVP, presented by offensive coordinator Brandon Alvarez. He led the team with 34 catches for yards 353 yards and three scores.
“The guy that is getting this award is somebody very special to me,” said Brandon Alvarez. “He was like a coach on the field. He knew all the plays and all the signals. He showed up early every day and worked his butt off.”
Benjamin Shumaker was named Sophomore of the Year by coach Hargers.
“I can’t say enough about him. His brother played for us last year and I guess he’s following the steps of his brother.”
Senior Nate David was named Linebacker of the Year by coach Brandon Hargers.
“There were some hard days and they all had to depend on each other to get through. I appreciate all the hard work and effort from all the guys. “(Nate) was pretty much the heart and soul of the defense. He was consistent, always gave it his all and I appreciate him for going through the struggle and the pain.
Senior Zachery Hoyle was named Defensive Lineman of the Year by coach Isaac Thomas. He finished the season with 24 tackles, including 12 for a loss.
“From my first day here last April, this guy bought in 100 percent. He’s exactly what you look for in a nose guard. He’s tough, hard-working and unselfish. When you’re dealing with double and triple teams every play, that’s a lot. He was the anchor of our defense this year.”
Senior Elijah Delacruz, who battled through injuries most of the season after missing all of his junior season with an injury, was presented with the Running Back of the Year award by coach Donald Buckram.
“He collected 667 yards rushing, 1017 all-purpose yards and eight touchdowns and he did that without completing the season. That just shows me how much heart and passion this kid has to collect so many yards in so little time.”
The Offensive Big Skill Man of the Year was presented to senior Aaron Shanahan by assistant head coach Jason Hammett.
“We lost four offensive linemen for the season this year. It’s a testament to the entire group how these guys stepped up and played together when they needed to. “(Aaron) didn’t miss a game or a practice rep and he totally bought into what we were doing here.”
Senior Jahmeel Rice was presented with the Receiver of the Year award by coach Jeff Rodgers.
“Jahmeel nearly 1,000 yards in his career and nine touchdowns,” said Rodgers. It was a pleasure to be able to coach him.”
Last, but not least, senior Levi Smith was presented with the Scout Team Player of the Year by Buckram.
“If we need him to play running back, quarterback, receiver, linebacker, safety or whatever position we need, he said yes sir and did his best.”