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Sports

Cooper Bulldogs: Glimpse into Non-District Grid Action

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Cindy Roller
/
Cooper Review
Cooper Bulldogs leading rusher Tristan Jones

The 2015 Cooper Bulldog Football squad rested last Friday as did most of the district. The Bulldogs will be hosting the Class 3A Division II District 6 opener against the winless Lone Oak Buffaloes.

The Buffaloes lost 36-26 to the Winnsboro Red Raiders. Thus far the Buffaloes have played Scurry-Rosser who are 4-1, undefeated Caddo Mills and Mineola and gave Mount Vernon their first win.

Overall the Bulldogs are sitting in second place with a 2-3 record in non-district begins under the 4-1 Alba-Golden Panthers and above the other Bulldogs of Edgewood, who are also 2-3. Chisum and Grand Saline are both 1-4, with Lone Oak 0-5, rounding out the standings. The Harris Ratings have the Bulldogs favored by 2 points over the Buffaloes of Lone Oak. Last year the Bulldogs lost 45-0 against the same opponent.

“They are young starters. They have come a long way so far and we are going to be a playoff team, one way or another,” said Cooper Bulldogs Head Coach Ronnie Green on the Bulldogs. “The District is wide open right now.”

For non-district play the Bulldog team has amassed 1,442 total rushing yards by the hands of Tristan Jones, Brayden Toon, Mitchell Green, Emilio Zapata and Wesley Bridges. The Bulldogs have allowed 1,029 for their opponents, and netted 102 in passing – giving up 461.

Some highlights of the non-district play:

It was a sweet 20-6 homecoming victory for the Cooper Bulldogs over the Whitewright Tigers on Friday, Sept. 25. Cooper Bulldogs Head Football Coach Ronnie Green said he was proud of the work the secondary did in the game. The defense stepped up and held the Tigers to 248 total yards of offense.

Coach Green said, “We contained them. The secondary played very good. Linebackers delivered some pressure.”

Four straight carries by Bulldog Brayden Toon moved the ball to the 33 yard line. Teammate Tristan Jones took it in the rest of the way for the score. This was his first of two touchdowns on the night for Jones, who leads with nine touchdowns for the season. On a third down play Bulldog quarterback Mitchell Green went to the airways finding Jake Mitchell for a sweet 50-yard reception. Tristan Jones completed the drive with a four-yard rush into the end zone. Jones is the leader in rushing for Cooper with 182 yards on the night and 747 yards on the season.

Click on link for highlight video: https://animoto.com/play/yURYgcpO1B1Hqrb7O8urUA#

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Untimely penalties, turnovers and bad luck plagued Cooper’s 26-20 loss to the hosting Prairiland Patriots on Friday, Sept. 18. Cooper outgained Prairiland 452 yards to 339 but could not overcome the mistakes in a hard fought physical game.

“We killed ourselves in the first half with two big turnovers. Several different penalties and several different plays that hurt us,” said Coach Green. “In the second half we went back to very basic football which is what the kids wanted to do at halftime and when we looked up it was 14-12. We, the younger kids, got better in the second half. If we can play like we did in the second half for an entire game, we will be fine.”

Cooper got the ball the start the second half. Runs of 8-, 6-, and 5-yards by Jones moved the ball near midfield. Two plays later Toon dashed 44-yards to get Cooper onto the scoreboard, his first touchdown of the season. Toon rushed for 175 yards on the night.

Bulldog Justin Gibson was able to make a touchdown saving tackle on Jordan Harrison. Cooper’s defense stiffened with tackles for a short gain by Green and quarterback sack by Tanner Eure. Another Bulldog tackle for a four yard loss set up the punt.

***

As the 21-point favored team Cooper Bulldogs found what they have been looking for this season – the 54-12 victory over the Tom Bean Tom Cats – giving their hometown fans a reason to cheer on Friday, Sept. 11.

Cooper gave up 95 yards on 13 penalties compared to Tom Bean’s 25 yards on a trio. But the more impressive statistics came in offensive yards. After being held to 87 yards the previous week, Cooper rolled up 468 total yards of offense with 429 on the ground. Cooper is highlighted by the work of Taylor Knickerbocker, Rhyland McQuatters, Dylan Toon, Tyler Knickerbocker, Trenton Blundell and Justin Gibson. Bulldog senior Tristan Jones led the way with 126 yards on 16 carries, three touchdowns and a two point conversion.

It doesn’t stop with the O-line. The Bulldog defense was able to hold the Tom Cats to just 24 yards in the second half of play. Bulldog Quarterback Mitchell Green had 103 rushing yards on seven carries, a touchdown and a pair of two point conversions as well as completing three of four passes for 39 yards including a 20-yard reception in the end zone to Jake Mitchell.

Daniel Jackson of Tom Bean didn’t have much time to admire their advantage as Cooper defended their turf snagging another loose ball by Wesley Bridges. Despite the sideline warning, Cooper assembled a six-play drive eating up 49 yards capped with a Jones’ TD. Bulldog Emilio Zapata opened the second half with a 76-yard touchdown return for Cooper making it 34-6. Tom Bean immediately answered with their own kickoff return by Jackson for a 95-yard score to tack on six more points.

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It was a rough start for the Cooper Bulldogs as the Rains Wildcats put up a half 100 on the scoreboard lights on their own homecoming Friday night, Sept. 4 while holding the Bulldogs scoreless. Coach Green chalked the recent losses up to the team’s youth.

“We are young, and it will get better,” assured Coach Green in the third quarter of the game with two Cooper quarterbacks – Ryan Longshore and Mitchell Green – on the sidelines injured.

Cooper was outgained 329 to 87 in total yards of offense to Rains. However Cooper was sporting their new football uniforms to which they didn’t get dirty since Wildcat Stadium’s has new turf, despite the 50-0 loss.

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Cooper Bulldogs football team showed more momentum in the second half on Friday, Aug. 28 at Fred G. Wilkerson Field spurred by the combination of senior Tristan Jones and sophomore quarterback Mitchell Green, it wasn’t enough against the Farmersville Farmers’ combo of juniors Caleb Twyford and quarterback Chase Hacker as the visitors took home the 37-22 win.

Under the Friday night lights the home team in maroon and gray had 213 total yards, mainly netted in the second half of play. Jones had 14 carries for 125 yards, two touchdowns and a two-point conversion. Along with his scoring for Cooper, Green had eleven carries for 67 yards, a TD and a conversion.  Farmersville garnered 352 total yards of offense on the night with Twyford leading with 196 yards in both rushing and receiving, scoring all five of their touchdowns.

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“Our goal is for in week 12 to be in the playoffs,” said Coach Green. “We will be happy – not satisfied – but happy.” The Bulldog football coaching staff has their work cut out for themselves this year after graduating 20 players.

“We graduated as many as we have on this year’s team,” said Coach Green, noting he is seeing a similar trend with other district teams. Dave Campbell’s Texas Football has the maroon and gray Bulldog team picked fourth in District 6-3A, Division II. “Others may expect a team with only one returning starter to finish fourth but that’s not our expectations.” Last year the team finished 7-4 overall, 4-1 in district, as playoff qualifier – falling to Howe in postseason 30-20.

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