By John Loop, BubbleLife Intern
Nothing but wide-open field.
This was the image that Coppell running backs saw all season, having stockpiled almost 300 more rushing yards (2356) than this year’s prolific passing attack (2023).
Before I continue my argument, I would like to set one thing straight.
If someone had told me at this time last year that the Coppell Cowboy football team would clinch first place in District 5-5A and a postseason berth behind the legs of a strong three-headed running attack, I would have laughed in their face.
See how that turned out for me?
The hard-nosed trio of backs, junior Gavin McDaniel, senior Luke Jenner and sophomore Charles West, have all contributed in the growth of the running back-by-committee system that has become quite popular among many high school, college and professional teams.
Don’t get me wrong. I am not saying that the passing attack of the 2011 Coppell Cowboys was at all a hindrance.
Through the first four games of the 2011 season, Coppell’s spread attack had the team riding a 4-0 record into a matchup with the Denton Guyer Wildcats.
But in that game, the Cowboys had two quarterbacks in two consecutive offensive series. Without a proven pocket passer healthy, head coach Joe McBride shelved the spread offense in favor of a power running game.
After the season-ending loss to Keller Central, McBride immediately began the search for a new offensive play caller. He finally settled on former Barbers Hill offensive coordinator Michael Odle.
From my observations, after the hiring of Odle, the mood of both coaches and players changed drastically for the better.
Odle himself even said, “The most talented team is never the one holding the trophies at the end of the year. This team has the talent to reach its goals. They are well coached, as this community has seen over past three years, and are hungry to get back to the playoffs.”
At the beginning of this season, there was buzz surrounding the quarterback position after Bridgeport High School transfer Colby Mahon moved to Coppell. Mahon (1951 yards, 25 TDs this season) won the job outright — needless to say, the senior has been a perfect complement to the Cowboy running game.
Jenner, the senior running back, has backed his 1,088 yard, 11-score campaign that led the team in 2011, with 293 yards and four scores this season.
Not to mention, he is also a reliable target out of the backfield (16 catches, 217 yards, 3 TDs).
McDaniel, a junior who has pulled on his brother Cam’s No. 4 jersey every Friday night since freshman year, has been nothing short of impressive, scoring five TDs to go along with 950 yards.
For West, a sophomore newcomer on varsity this season, football runs in the family.
West, a combination of speed and muscle who has familial ties to Dallas Cowboys rookie cornerback Morris Claiborne, is a tough matchup for opposing defenses. West has lived up to the hype, running all over the field for 598 yards and seven scores.
Although DeSoto stopped Coppell's season short of a state title with their 42-14 win on Saturday, all three of these backs contributed significantly to every game of the Coppell Cowboys season.