Cove new head coach/AD brings winning resume to Bulldawgs
By TJ Maxwell
Copperas Cove’s new athletic director and head football coach Jack Alvarez brings a varied 20-year career to the Bulldawgs’ program.
Alvarez takes over a program led by Jack Welch for 24 years with 18 playoff appearances, including consecutive appearances from 2004-2015. The Dawgs went at least four rounds deep in the playoffs from 2005-2008 with a pair of state title appearances in 2006-2007.
“I am very excited to be named the head football coach and athletic director of the Copperas Cove Bulldawgs,” said Alvarez during a special meeting held last Friday announcing his approval by the school board. “I look forward to building a state championship caliber football program and begin the next chapter of my coaching career. I have high expectations for not only the football program but all athletic programs and looks forward to working with the students and staff at Copperas Cove ISD.”
After turning around the Kirbyville program from a 25-game losing streak to a perennial playoff team with two state championship appearances, Alvarez led the Ennis Lions to their fifth state championship in 2014.
Alvarez and the Ennis Lions are known for “The Drive” that gave them the championship over the Cedar Park Timberwolves.
“They never stopped believing,” Alvarez said of his players after the 2014 title win. “It’s all about those guys. They fought for each other all year long. They never quit believing and they never quit fighting. I love them to death.”
A good, old-fashioned hook-and-ladder play on 3rd and 19 with the game on the line set up the championship-winning pass from quarterback Devin Smith to Donta Thompson for the 38-35 win.
“That was our play to win it,” Alvarez said of the hook-and-ladder on 3rd and 19. “We worked on it all year and it was time to call it and it worked. Sometimes you’re lucky.”
Trailing 35-31 with 1:29 left in the fourth quarter, Alvarez and the Lions forced a field goal try from 27 yards that bounced off the uprights before mounting “The Drive”.
Quarterback keepers by Smith moved the team near midfield before a sack of Smith and an incomplete pass made it 3rd and 19 with 36 seconds remaining.
The hook-and-ladder for 32 yards then set up the offense at the Timberwolves 36 with 28 seconds left before the touchdown pass from Smith to Thompson sealed the win with 21 seconds left.
Alvarez led the Lions to four district championships, state semi-finals, and three bi-district finals. His overall record is 165-74 and has a 60-25 record with the Ennis Lions.
Alvarez took over a Lions program with four state titles, including three in four years (2000, 2001, and 2004) when coach Sam Harrell resigned in 2010. Interim head coach Steve Marrow finished the 2010 season 2-8 before Alvarez led the 2011 team to a 3-7 record and the third-straight missed playoff.
Alvarez quickly turned the program around with a 9-3 record and return to the playoffs in 2012 where they suffered a first-round loss to Whitehouse 42-32.
Alvarez and the Lions posted their best record together in 2013 with a 14-1 record and state semifinals appearance where they lost to eventual champions Aledo 29-6. The Lions defeated Lucas Lovejoy 64-13, Frisco 46-25 and Mesquite Poteet 43-14 before falling to Aledo.
The Lions posted a 14-2 record the following year on their way to the Class 5A Division II state title.
The Lions beat Sulphur Springs 52-47, Mansfield Timberview 17-13, The Colony 49-35, South Oak Cliff 31-14 and Canutillo 41-13 before mounting “The Drive” against Cedar Park 38-35 for Alvarez’s first title.
Alvarez also had winning seasons in his final three years with Ennis but was knocked out of the playoffs in the first round in each. The 2015 Lions finished 6-5 with a loss to 24-23 loss to Halletsville. They increased their record to 7-4 in 2016 with a 41-27 playoff loss to Bryan and were 8-4 in 2017 before Cedar Park exacted some revenge by sending the Lions home with a 17-14 win.
Alvarez came close to a title as head man for the Kirbyville Wildcats in his 11-year run from 2000-2010.
The Wildcats amassed an 8-4 record and went two rounds deep in the playoffs in 2006 before an 11-2 record and three-round run in 2007. The Wildcats finished 14-1 in 2008 with a state finals loss to Muleshoe 48-26. The Wildcats were 12-3 in 2009 with a loss to regional round appearance and 12-1 in 2010 with another regional appearance.
Alvarez gets reunited with former colleague, CCISD superintendent Joe Burns, who served as superintendent of Kirbyville from 2002-2009.
Alvarez started his coaching career in 1998 as head coach at Pineland West Sabine and led the Tigers to a 7-4 with their first playoff appearance in seven years.
Alvarez has an overall record of 165-74 and was 60-25 with the Ennis Lions.
Alvarez will have to find a new quarterback and receiving corps with the graduation of senior QB Jaylen Smith and a host of senior receivers, led by Floyd Connell.
Alvarez has a solid junior class returning in 2018, led by running back Shontez Simmons and lineman Ezekiel Buchanan on offense and linebacker Jack Schumaker and cornerback Tommy Connell on defense. Alvarez will also see some talent moving up from the successful sub-varsity programs.