Lubbock Cooper does not have the championship pedigree of the Aledo Bearcats, but they do have something in common. If it's playoff season, odds are both teams are still playing.
And once again, indeed they are as they prepare to meet at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 17 at Memorial Stadium in Wichita Falls.
"They're the Aledo of the Lubbock area. Good football players end up coming to them," Bearcats head coach Robby Jones said. "If you're a good football player coming into the area, you're probably going to play for them, just like a lot of players here."
Both teams also have a long history of postseason success. Aledo has reached the playoffs every season since 1996 and has won 28 consecutive first-round playoff games. Cooper's streak, while not as long, 11 times since 2010 the Pirates have reached at least the second round, with semifinals appearances in 2019 and 2021 and quarterfinals appearances in 2018 and 2020.
Since 2013, including this season, Cooper's record is 110-29 overall and 19-10 in the playoffs. During that same stretch, Aledo is 156-9 overall and 54-3 in the playoffs with seven state championships.
"Our kids play harder than most every team we play. Cooper can match that," Jones said. "They have a great program that knows how to win."
After missing the past couple of games with a sprained knee, sophomore running back Ray Guillory is expected to be back this week for Aledo - albeit in a limited role, Jones said.
Guillory also experienced an ankle injury in a 60-14 win at The Colony on Sept. 29. After he returned from that, he injured his knee in a 25-19 win over Denton Ryan in Aledo on Oct. 20.
"Ray's been practicing. He'll get several carries, but he won't be on the field for the entire game," Jones said. "Really, he hasn't had any type of conditioning other than the (stationary) bicycle since late September."
Hawk Patrick-Daniels, who played running back all of last season and rushed for over 1,400 yards, took the majority of carries in a 27-6 bidistrict win at home over Killeen Shoemaker. He rushed 23 times for 137 yards and a touchdown.
"Hawk will still get the majority of the carries," Jones said. "We're not going to re-injure that thing, but Ray being back will definitely help us."
Despite some absence this season, Guillory leads the Bearcats in rushing yards (773) and touchdowns scored with 15 (11 rushing, 4 receiving).
One player on the field Friday night can speak of being a part of both programs. Pirates senior wide receiver Jayden Kennard was in the Aledo program as a freshman and sophomore before his family moved to Lubbock, where he now plays for the Pirates.
"Our kids know Jayden. They keep up with Lubbock Cooper," Jones said. "He'd be a good contributor to our program if we was still here. He can be dangerous.
"They know Cooper is a good program with good athletes."
This will be the third meeting between the Bearcats and Pirates, with Aledo having won both. Along with last season's 45-21 second-round win, Aledo defeated Cooper 28-21 in the 2019 state semifinals.
In both seasons, the Bearcats went on to win a state championship.
Cooper is known for its large offensive line. They are coached by former Texas Tech assistant Lee Hays.
"He had kids in school in Lubbock and didn't want to move," Jones said.
During his time at Tech from 2013-17, Hays was a part of a program that had one of the nation's most prolific offenses under head coach Kliff Kingsbury. The team featured quarterback Patrick Mahomes, two-time Super Bowl champion with the Kansas City Chiefs.
Jones advised folks looking at Cooper's record not to be fooled because the Pirates have three losses. Those three setbacks were by a total of five points to teams that are still in the playoffs.
The Pirates lost 35-34 at Wolfforth Frenship (9-2), 35-34 at home to Abilene Wylie (9-2) and 38-35 at Abilene (9-2) in a game that decided the District 2-5A Division I championship.
"We were one play away from playing Abilene this week," Jones said.
Meanwhile, Cooper has outscored its eight other opponents by a margin of 366-89. The Pirates defeated El Paso Parkland 67-7 in bidistrict.
The winner of Friday's game will face the winner between Red Oak (11-0) and Amarillo (6-5) next week. Also playing in Region I this week are Amarillo Tascosa (5-6) against Justin Northwest (9-2) and Abilene against Denton Ryan (8-2).
Northwest and Ryan are in District 3-5A Division I alongside the Bearcats. The lone loss for the league in bidistrict was by Burleson Centennial to Red Oak, 35-32. Northwest topped Midlothian 40-37 and Ryan defeated Lake Belton 38-13.
Last season two teams from 3-5A Division I met in the regional final as Aledo downed Centennial 42-21.
"I think every game we're going to play is going to be a tough game," Jones said. "We've got a lot of tough teams in this region, including several from our own district we might face again.
1 comment on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here
Tuesday, November 21 Report this