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October 15, 2008

Coppell hopes to build on Dragon slaying

The mighty Southlake Carroll Dragon was slayed. And next door neighbor Coppell is the slayer.

On Coppell's first day back at school Tuesday, the kids had all-black shirts with a commemorative 57-53 scoreboard on the back. Coppell's double-overtime victory before more than 10,000 at Buddy Echols Field snapped a 38-game district winning streak by Southlake Carroll and is only the fourth time Coppell has defeated Southlake in the last 23 games.

Suffice it to say, as Coppell students stormed the field last Friday night: This was a big deal.

The shirt reads: Witness. 57-53. Double Overtime. Oct. 10, 2008. Our Tradition Begins.

The victory could prove to be critical for Coppell in qualifying for one of four playoff spots in a six-team district with four teams which have won state titles in the last 15 years. Coppell (5-1, 1-0) plays at Hebron (3-3, 1-0) on Friday. Hebron won the '05 Class 4A DII state championship.


Coppell second-year coach Bob Shipley's goal in leaving Class 3A state power Burnet in Central Texas for Coppell was to take the Cowboys to new heights.

"This isn't the same old Coppell," Shipley said. "Everyone says Coppell always comes on strong early in the season and fades. We don't want to be the same old Coppell, and the kids have bought into that that."

The Coppell victory on Friday night and Texas' upset of No. 1-ranked Texas at the Cotton Bowl on Saturday afternoon supplied life-long memories for the Cowboys and Longhorns.

And the Shipley family knows better than most just how similar the two victories were. Bob Shipley and his sophomore receiver son Jaxon Shipley are at Coppell. Older brother Jordan Shipley had a career day to help the fifth-ranked Longhorns knock off Oklahoma.

Jordan Shipley had a 96-yard kickoff return for a touchdown to go with 11 catches for 112 yards and another touchdown.

"Both of us were going against teams that are highly respected and highly ranked," Bob told Todd Wills of theoldcoach.com.

Jordan couldn't attend Coppell's game because of a Texas team curfew, but received text messages throughout the game.

Dad was at Jordan's record-setting performance at the Cotton Bowl.

Coppell and Texas were definitely not the favorites heading into either game. They both rallied from double-digit deficits twice.

Coppell trailed by two touchdowns twice, including 36-22 in the third quarter. The Longhorns trailed the Sooners five times, twice by 11 points.

"One thing our teams share in common is a lot of unselfish players," Bob said. "Texas doesn't have a Cedric Benson or a Roy Williams, an intimidating offensive presence. One of the biggest blocks was by (receiver) Quan Cosby when Jordan almost scored on a long touchdown.

"All of our (Coppell) players are underrated. We're playing well as a team. We had a couple of Division-I players last year, but there's not a stand out, go-to guy this year. We have guys who get the job done when their numbers are called."

Another similarity between Texas and Coppell is that both were expected to be in transition years for 2009. The Longhorns entered the season with major holes to fill everywhere. Quarterback Colt McCoy a returning starter but even he has far exceeded expectations.

Next year was also supposed to be Coppell's year with a sophomore class that went undefeated last year with Jaxon as a touchdown-making machine with his speed and hands at receiver. There's also standout sophomore running back McDaniel's already become a respected Cowboys leader among juniors and seniors.

Coppell still doesn't have a loaded class of talent waiting to explode over the next few seasons. There are a lot of solid 5A players who may work themselves into being major college prospects. Senior running back Evans Okotcha is doing well with his combination of strength and speed. Senior receiver Jordan Tollett has turned into the kind of speedy, good hands, make catches in traffic receiver that have been a specialty in the Southlake Carroll dynasty that won state titles in 2006, '05, '04 and '02.

Coppell and Carroll's football success has varied greatly since both were in the same Class B district in 1963. Coppell beat Southlake Carroll in Week 9 to get the only District 11-B playoff spot. Coppell lost in the state playoffs' first round.

It wasn't until 1999 that Coppell made the playoffs again while Southlake Carroll mushroomed into a nationally known power. Carroll has seven state football titles.

Coppell made a playoff run from 1999 through 2003 but only advanced as far as the third round once. The Cowboys have no state football titles and haven't been to the playoffs in three of the last four years.

This season, Coppell was picked by some to finish last in their district. But Coppell has made tremendous strides under Shipley and an all-star coaching staff including defensive coordinator Rick Rhodes and offensive coordinator Jeff Merket.

"I know it's satisfying for Jordan and Texas because no one picked them Saturday," Bob said. "And it's very satisfying to play a team with the tradition of Southlake and to be able to beat them. We challenged our kids to prove it wasn't a fluke. We're going to keep the pedal to the metal."


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