Nothing came easy for the Coppell football team at last weekend’s 7-on-7 state-qualifying tournament in Arlington, but the Cowboys made more than enough plays to qualify for the Division I state tournament for the second consecutive season.
Coppell went 3-0 in pool play with wins over Fort Worth All Saints (28-14), Crowley (32-25) and Colleyville Heritage (26-18) before topping Byron Nelson (34-27) in overtime of the state qualifying round.
Coppell sophomore quarterback Edward Griffin and junior wide receiver Baron Tipton hooked up on the game-winning touchdown and conversion to send the Cowboys back to state. The state tournament will be held June 22-24 at Veterans Park and Athletic Complex in College Station.
"It's a big deal for these kids to go out and compete and win,” said Antonio Wiley, Coppell head coach. “There wasn't an easy game. Every game had conflicts within its own self. Our kids never wavered, even when they fell down in games.
“They found ways to come back and win. Whether we perceived it as a poor call or we felt like the clock was mismanaged and the game should have been over, our kids didn't let circumstances affect how they came out and performed."
Coppell has had to fill key positions off last season’s 9-2 team that was a bi-district finalist, most notably at quarterback. Griffin and junior Alex Holder are in a spirited battle to replace Fishpaw, who garnered District 6-6A co-MVP and Star Local Media’s offensive player of the year after he threw for 2,867 yards and accounted for 36 total touchdowns.
The Cowboys averaged 36.3 points per game with Fishpaw under center.
Although Griffin led Coppell on the game-winning drive at the Arlington SQT, Wiley said that neither Griffin nor Holder have backed down from the competition and expects a close battle for the starting job all the way until the beginning of the season.
"It's a long way from being over," Wiley said. "Edward Griffin has done a great job. If I had to guess, Alex Holder wants to say something about that too. He's fighting for a job. I think we'll find out as we roll into the spring and summer and early fall as to who will be the starter. But I think we're in a great position to say that when we pick a starter, the guy that is behind him can get the job done. That's a luxury that a lot of programs don't have."
Two other key positions that Coppell has needed to fill are defensive back and defensive end. Junior Jaden Adkins is showing good potential at the rover position, which will help Coppell to fill the void that was left by shutdown cornerback and Ole Miss signee Braxton Myers. Junior defensive end Diallo Hall and junior linebacker Amari’a Wiley, the son of coach Wiley, are solidifying a key role that was left by Brown signee Ike Odimegwu.
Coach Wiley has also been impressed with the play of junior offensive lineman Alex Jackson and sophomore lineman Andrew Gross, as well as from sophomore safety Scott Fishpaw, the younger brother of Jack, and safety Weston Polk, who is entering his third season as a starter.
“All of those guys have taken off,” coach Wiley said. “It's nice to be able to sit and watch these guys grow into the football players that we know that they can become.”
Coppell began spring practice on April 17, leading up to the May 11 spring game at Buddy Echols Field. There were plenty of highlights, including a reverse ran by junior wide receiver Ayrion Sneed that went for 70 yards.
“I just watched a lot of men become bigger, faster versions of themselves,” Wiley said. “That takes a level of commitment, and all of our guys have completely bought into the vision of this team.”
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