The Abilene Cooper Cougars had an innocuous, almost disastrous start to this season. They were blown out by Grapevine and crosstown rival Abilene High, and were looking like every single other average team coming into district play. Of course, since football doesn’t follow statistics or logic, they’ve been offing teams in district with relative ease.
First it was a 24-17 win over previously undefeated Lubbock Monterey. Next it was a victory over Jarret Doege and the previously undefeated Lubbock Cooper Pirates, two thirds of a trio of unprecedentedly undefeated schools from the Lubbock area. The Cougars are winning with stifling defense, a complete and total 180 from the defensive lapses that came in their early losses.
The road to a district championship won’t come easy for the Cougars, who are staring down at a surging Lubbock High team this week, and have yet to face the last undefeated Lubbock school, Lubbock Coronado. The road doesn’t get easier, but with two of the toughest wins under their belts, it makes sense that the Cougars could be set up for a defacto district title game with Lubbock Coronado in November.
Don’t think that because the Cougars are winning with defense that they can’t score points. Myller Royals and the rest of the Cooper receiving corps are good enough to torch you if you aren’t paying attention. There’s always some way this team can beat you, whether it’s on offense or defense.
They’re a tough team too, battle-hardened by the sting of defeats both wide in margin and close in margin. They lost by three points to Austin Bowie, and by 50+ to Grapevine. Those experiences only hardened the Cougars though, as none of their wins this year have come from more than three scores, and half of them have come from a single touchdown margin or less.
With all this experience in winning close games, it’s still a surprise that the Cougars are challenging for this district. Many had this as a lock to Lubbock Cooper before the season started, and when district play began, most gave it to one of that trio of Lubbock schools; either Cooper, Monterey, or Coronado was thought to be the favorite.
The Cougars have shaken this district to its core, but they aren’t after mere moral victories. This is a team that’s after even more than district success, and their early season failures might have been the catalyst to their tough play that’s taking 4-5A by storm.