Dawgs battle it out in back-and-forth intrasquad showdown

By TJ MAXWELL
Cove Leader-Press

New Copperas Cove head football coach and athletic director, Jack Alvarez, liked what he saw from his squad in the team’s intrasquad scrimmage on Saturday after just five days of practicing with a revamped roster, new staff and new philosophy.
“I saw some good things,” said Alvarez. “We can run the ball when we want to, and we can throw and catch a little bit. I thought, defensively we were very aggressive. I saw some things over there that need work too, obviously. They put all their eggs into one basket and that’s why we were able to have success in other ways.
“We’ve had a great week overall. I’ve had a lot of fun with the kids and the coaches. Everyone being so open-minded and willing to work, the kids and their response has been great.”
The defense held the offense to very few productive plays early in the scrimmage and were flying to the ball, but the offense got things working in the second half of the scrimmage to the tune of three scores.
“From what I understand, they need to be a little better on defense than they have been so that’s a good sign,” said Alvarez.
Senior quarterback Easton Simpson didn’t like the way his offense started but liked the way they finished.
“We could have been a little better at the beginning but once we got into it, we started to change it up and get the defenses number,” he said. “The quicker we got to the ball, the better we were doing. It was definitely a better ending than start.”
The team took a big hit when junior running back Elijah De La Cruz broke his left leg early on in the scrimmage.
“It was a good day overall except for De La Cruz,” said Alvarez. “That just breaks my heart.
“That was a major setback because everything had been super positive. I’ve asked them to give great effort, have great attitudes and be tough mentally and physically. The Bulldawgs are going to eat. I think we’re in a situation now where we’re going to have to overcome a little bit and be mentally tough. I thought we did that today.”
After a 40-minute delay to tend to De La Cruz, the team shook off the tragedy and went back to work with a renewed goal.
“Everything from now on is for De La Cruz,” said Simpson. “He is a game changer and we’re going to miss him.
“We got some younger running backs behind him, so I just have to make sure they know they can play. Those young guys just have to make sure to stay confident in themselves and we’ll be better.”
Senior linebacker Darrell Quichocho liked what he saw from his defense.
“We’re feeling good,” he said. “We’ve got a lot of leadership and I think that’s one of the key factors of us going far.”
With a new offensive philosophy and new coaching staff, Quichocho knows how important it is for the defensive side of the ball to make a splash this year. 
“We have to step up,” he said. “We’re head-hunters and we have to take charge on the field and we did that straight off the bat.”
The offense broke the defensive stranglehold with a long touchdown pass from Simpson to junior receiver Jahmeel Rice over the middle.
A tough touchdown run by sophomore running back Brandon Ortega closed out the scrimmage.
Simpson was 6 for 9 for 68 yards and two scores in the contest.
Simpson feels confident that the offense with work out the kinks and be ready.
“On offense we just don’t have the formations down fully yet,” he said. “It’s just very little things that we’ve got to get ready for. 
“I just want everyone to come in with the same intensity we had this week. We have to have that intensity every week if we want to win. If we keep playing together like we have been, we will be successful.”
Quichocho says his guys just need to do a little fine-tuning as well.
“There’s a lot of stuff we need to do,” he said. “Tomorrow, we’re looking at film and we’re going to fix it up. We just need to fly to the ball and be aggressive.”
Coach likes the progress thus far but wants to see continued improvement heading into Friday’s scrimmage against Buda Hays.
“I thought the kids did pretty good considering how long we’ve been practicing,” he said. “We put a lot of pressure on them to learn the nuts and bolts. I just want to see us keep executing. I want to see us make plays, take care of the ball, tackle, and cover. I just want to see us playing good, solid football.”

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