It is another new school year and another new football season for the Cooper Bulldog team. This year’s team has some big shoes to fill and with 20 seniors stepping up to replace the 14 that graduated, the task doesn’t seem quite as daunting.
“It is not an easy schedule,” noted Cooper Athletic Director and Head Football Coach Ronnie Green, on the 2014 changes. “It will be a good challenge for us.”
Last year the maroon and gray squad carried their cheering fans well into snow-filled winter months finishing as the Quarterfinalists in Class 2A, Division II, recording new school records. They punched their ticket to playoffs facing off and defeating the Whitewright Tigers 43-7, Mildred Eagles 56-18, Henrietta Bearcats 64-20, Scurry-Rosser Wildcats 56-18 to narrowly fall an old foe, Leonard Tigers, 28-20. The Bulldogs ended their historical season 13-1, advancing deeper into the football playoffs than any other team for Cooper (dating back to 1939).
Much of Cooper’s success came on the heels of Damarcus Robinson. Robinson finished his senior season with 2,211 rushing yards (averaging 13.3 yards per carry), 31 (29 rushing) touchdowns and five two-point conversions. He was a dangerous return man, running back a punt and a kickoff for touchdowns. A position Green will need to fill for this year’s Bulldog team.
This year with a new UIL Classification 3A, Division II, District 6 Cooper will be building on the empire and the momentum.
Coach Green will be relying on an arsenal of key players, many returning players. Six-foot 170-pound senior Jadon McGraw will be under center for the Bulldogs with the graduation of Kasey Leatherwood. Offensive starters include 6-foot 210-pound senior Colby Earley, 6-foot-2 170-pound senior Jack Cain and 6-foot-1 220-pound junior Tristan Jones.
“We will be rotating several players to keep them fresh,” said Green.
By the end of last November the Bulldog defense – comprised of heavy-hitters Colby Earley, Jordan Sillivan, Austen Blakley, Tristan Jones, Brandan Chandler – was a powerhouse only allowing eight points per game and forcing 24 turnovers.
Defensively seniors Clay Ingram, Casey Mims, Tanner Phifer, Ira Franklin – making up over 700-pounds on the line – along with Jones, Cain and McGraw will be Green’s first on the field to carry on the powerful tradition.
Coach Green and his staff have been discussing the new faces on the schedule.
“Edgewood is very solid. Lone Oak is a tough team every year. But I think we might have more depth,” said Coach Green. “We handled Whitewright pretty easily last year in the playoffs but they were a young team. They are probably improved. …There are some tough games, and that’s what I am expecting it to be.”
With a veteran staff of Larry Stowers, Josh Shipman, Drew Conley, Daniel Nichols, Patrick Fuller, Brandon Bonds and Tommy Cooper the transition this year has been smooth.
“I am ready for a regular routine,” said the coach, who is settling into his fifth year at the helm for Cooper.
Thursday’s junior varsity action against Farmersville kicks off at 6 p.m. at Fred G. Wilkerson field at Cooper’s Bulldog Stadium. This Friday will be the first road varsity game appearance for the Bulldogs as they travel to fight it out with the Farmersville Farmers at 7:30 p.m.
Cooper Review will be publishing its complete annual Football Preview in this Thursday's edition.