Football hopes for Coppell (Texas)
, rosy at the completion of spring practice, turned uncertain leading up to kickoff of the 2012 season.
The Cowboys would be without a couple of contributors at key positions, dismissed for repeat rule violations over the summer.
But now at the midpoint of the regular season, any apprehension is long gone.
Coppell boasts a 5-0 record, its latest triumph Friday night's 27-24 overtime thriller over Allen (Texas), then No. 10 nationally in the MaxPreps Freeman Rankings
For his team's upset victory, and conviction to principle, Coppell coach Joe McBride was selected as the Dallas Coach of the Week presented by Comerica Bank.
"Every place has its rules, its black and white boundary,'' said McBride. "I'm a guy that believes all kids need to have second chances. I consider myself a mentor to kids. We invest a lot of time and we care about them. But there is also a point where kids have to be held accountable to each other.''
From the outset, Coppell has focused on the task at hand this season. Coming into the Allen game Coppell had built a perfect 5-0 record.
Allen, however, represented Coppell's biggest test to date. Buoyed by the opening of its $60 million stadium this season, Allen's resume included impressive wins over defending Class 5A Division I state champion Carroll (Southlake, Texas) and Cedar Hill (Texas).
Coppell got off to a fast start and led Allen throughout the first half, only to fall behind in the third quarter.
Trailing by eight points in the fourth quarter, Coppell had to dig deep to drive 78 yards for a touchdown and make good on a 2-point conversion to reach overtime.Colby Mahon
's 35-yard touchdown pass to Cameron Smith
with five minutes remaining brought Coppell to within two, 21-19. Luke Jenner added a conversion run to tie.
A Coppell goal-line stand limited Allen to a go-ahead field goal in overtime. When Coppell got its overtime chance the senior connection of Mahon-to-Smith found the end zone again, this time from 23 yards, for the game-winner that spurred a walk-off celebration at Coppell's Cowboys Stadium.
"I'm just so proud of the way our kids responded,'' McBride said. "It was a great game by both teams in a playoff-type atmosphere. We battled through a lot of adversity.''
Smith finished with six catches for 129 yards and Mahon, a transfer from Class 3A Bridgeport (Texas), connected on 11 of 22 throws for 165 yards.
Coppell, which climbed from No. 66 nationally in the Freeman rankings to No. 14, got a big lift from a 116-yard rushing performance by junior Gavin McDaniel
, the younger brother of former Coppell star runner Cam McDaniel, now a sophomore for the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame.
"Gavin is unique in his own way from Cam,'' said McBride, "but he shares the same passion and effort. Both of them play the game with a lot of heart.''
When McBride took the reigns of the football program in 2009, he became Coppell's third head coach in three seasons. He has stabilized the situation and endeared himself to Coppell fans with a record that now stands at 35-7.
The Cowboys reached the third round of the Class 5A Division I playoffs in McBride‘s first season. They went a step deeper in 2010, going 13-1, losing to Euless Trinity in a memorable state quarterfinal.
Dogged by injuries in 2011 — including injuries to two quarterbacks — Coppell failed to make the playoffs.
McBride has earned the reputation for "defense first'' in an era of offensive-minded mentors. Coppell's defense is allowing only 10.5 points per game.
"I don't de-emphasize offense, but I'm a firm believer that defense wins championships,'' McBride said. "You've got to be able to stop people or it doesn't matter how many points you score.''
The strength of this particular Coppell defense is its front four led by defensive ends Solomon Thomas
and William Udeh
, a University of New Mexico pledge.
McBride and his Cowboys have an open week to bask in the glow before opening the District 5-5A schedule at Hebron on Friday, Oct. 12.