Coppell’s football team is peaking at the right time.
At least that is the feeling that head coach Mike DeWitt has gathered about his team as the Cowboys prepare for a Class 6A Division II bi-district game at 1 p.m. Saturday against Denton Guyer at C.H. Collins Athletic Complex.
A dominant second half by Coppell in a 51-28 rout of Flower Mound in the Dec. 4 regular-season finale has created a positive buzz within the school, a boost in momentum that the Cowboys hope to capitalize on against a tradition-rich Wildcat program.
Flower Mound junior quarterback Nick Evers threw for just 30 yards over the game’s final two quarters after torching the Coppell defense for 264 yards in the first half. Coppell also returned a blocked punt for a score while senior Jason Ngwu finished the game with 226 rushing yards with three touchdowns.
"Our kids have continued to get better every week and we finished the regular season strong," DeWitt said. "I'm very proud of the way the kids came out and played Friday night against Flower Mound. We played hard really in all three phases."
Coppell (6-3) hopes to replicate that success against Guyer (7-2).
Offensively for the Wildcats, it starts with Texas A&M pledge and senior quarterback Eli Stowers.
Standing at 6-foot-4 and 215 pounds, he can beat teams with his arm but also possesses the lower-body strength to break tackles. Stowers is out for revenge after he was injured in the first half of last year’s state championship game against Austin Westlake. The revenge tour has been met with little resistance. Stowers this season has thrown for 1,678 yards and ran for 623 yards with 23 total touchdowns.
Stowers has multiple weapons at his disposal in the passing game. Eight different Wildcats have at least 100 receiving yards. Junior Grayson Obara is Stowers’ favorite target, having caught 20 balls for 427 yards with five touchdowns for an average of 21.4 yards per reception. Fellow junior Jace Wilson has 347 receiving yards to go along with three scores.
Stowers also has the upmost trust in junior running back Byron Phillips. Phillips, a 6-0, 215-pound junior tailback, is a physical, downhill runner who has rushed for 923 yards with 16 touchdowns.
Defensively, Guyer operates out of an odd-man front and will occasionally bring an extra safety into the box to stop the run. The Wildcats are notorious for getting after the quarterback with 12 different players registering at least one sack, led by Baylor commit Cooper Lanz (62 tackles, five sacks) and junior defensive tackle Rowan Briggs (48 tackles, four sacks).
"They're a really, really good football team," DeWitt said. "They're going to be very well-coached. Rodney Webb does a great job, he and his staff. They've got a lot of really good players. I don't really see any weaknesses.”
For as talented as Guyer is on both sides of the ball, one weakness that Coppell will look to expose is the Wildcats’ run defense.
Allen rushed for 256 yards on 16 yards per carry in a 56-38 victory on Nov. 13. And, the Wildcats will be without Texas A&M pledge and senior defensive back Deuce Harmon (lower-back injury) on Saturday, while Florida State commit and senior linebacker Jordan Eubanks is listed as doubtful, according to the Denton Record-Chronicle.
Guyer has also had to overcome slow starts in games, having fallen behind to McKinney Boyd 21-3 and to Prosper 17-7 before rallying for 33-21 and 24-23 victories in those respective District 5-6A contests.
Saturday will also be sort of a homecoming for Coppell senior K.J. Liggins, who played for Guyer his junior season. Liggins has 13 touchdown receptions with 892 receiving yards.
Throwing the ball to Liggins is Coppell senior quarterback Ryan Walker. Walker has passed for 2,108 yards with 25 touchdowns and is second on the team in both rushing yards (392) and rushing touchdowns (two). Two weeks ago against Plano East, he completed 20-of-23 passes for 321 yards with six touchdowns.
Last week against Flower Mound, it was the Ngwu show for Coppell.
"Every game, you certainly want to try to run the football," DeWitt said. "I thought we did a good job of that last week. Jason had a big game. The (offensive) line did a great job up front. I thought that Jason ran really hard. We're certainly going to have to be able to do that Saturday."