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Coppell faces crucial road test at Plano East



PLANO, TX – Sitting on the outside of the playoff picture — albeit barely — Coppell head football coach Mike DeWitt is treating the Cowboys’ next two games against Plano East and Flower Mound as “playoff games.”

Coppell (4-3 overall, 2-2 District 6-6A) trails Hebron (3-2, 2-1) and Plano West (5-3, 3-2) by a half game for one of the two final playoff spots that come out of 6-6A, although the Cowboys hold the head-to-head tiebreaker over the aforementioned Wolves via a 31-20 victory for Coppell on Oct. 20.

But this season, playoff berths are based on number of district wins, not winning percentages, as voted on earlier in the season by the district executive committee — meaning Coppell needs to win its final two games of the regular season to give itself a realistic shot of making the postseason.

“We’re considering the last two games playoff games,” DeWitt said. “We need to win them. That’s kind of the mindset going in. Every game from here on out is big.”

The Cowboys hope to trend in that direction, starting tonight at winless Plano East (0-7, 0-4), after losing two straight games — most recently a 39-14 loss to Lewisville — and having a game against Hebron cancelled due to COVID-19 concerns within the Hawks’ program.

Coppell had only one day to prepare for Lewisville. The Cowboys were forced to work out away from the team facility from Nov 12-18 after concerns concerning COVID-19 at Coppell High School shut down the school for one week.

The lack of practice time was evident, DeWitt said. Coppell struggled to get in sync with the Farmers outscoring the Cowboys 32-7 over the final three quarters after the score was tied 7-7 after the first quarter.

“I thought that we played like we had one practice,” DeWitt said. “We just weren’t real crisp. The timing was off on some things. And we had some guys who didn’t practice over the bye week for various reasons. So, there were some people who had one practice in two weeks.”

The good news is that Coppell has been able to hold practice in person every day this week.

Even better news for Coppell is that it should get back on track against a Plano East team that has allowed a district-worst 43.1 points per game this season, including a whopping 63 points two weeks ago to a Flower Mound team that had been previously held to an average of 19.5 points.

Flower Mound amassed 619 total yards, including an average of 13.8 yards per play through the air. Junior quarterback Nick Evers completed 32-of-36 passes for 437 yards and four touchdowns.

Coppell has put up better offensive numbers than Flower Mound, averaging 31.1 points per game. Senior quarterback Ryan Walker has thrown for 1,669 yards and 18 touchdowns, while senior running back Jason Ngwu has averaged 100 rushing yards per game.

“We’ve had a good week of practice,” DeWitt said. “It feels good to be back in a normal week of routine, for sure.”

Defensively, DeWitt said Plano East runs a mixture of even and odd fronts. Offensively, the Wildcats run an option-based offense. Junior Ismail Mahdi is ninth among area running backs in Class 6A in total rushing yards with 922 to go along with seven touchdowns.

“Offensively, they do a really good job,” DeWitt said. “They’ve got a really good scheme. Their running back is one of the best running backs that we’ll play all year. Their quarterback is a dual threat. They do a really good job. You’ve got to be disciplined and have option responsibility.”