It takes every last man and moment to win


Nandini Paidesetty

Coppell senior running back Malkam Wallace catches the ball on Friday at Buddy Echols field. Coppell wins against Grand Prairie, 30-26.

Sahith Mocharla, Staff Writer

The Coppell football team is out to prove it is a different team in 2022. Despite struggles all night long with both offensive consistency and shutting down South Grand Prairie’s standout senior running back AJ Newberry, a Colorado commit, Coppell came together when it mattered most, with two fourth quarter stops by the defense and a two-minute drill by the offense to snag a Cowboy 30-26 victory.

“We know we had a bad game going up until the fourth quarter. But as soon as we knew what was on the line, that’s when we really picked it up,” senior linebacker Ike Odimegwu said.

With  the Warriors holding a 3 point lead with 1:40 left in the game, Coppell put the ball in the hands of its seniors when the game was in the balance, with quarterback Jack Fishpaw combining with wide receivers Baron Tipton and Zack Darkoch for a final drive; culminating in a 1-yard touchdown up the middle by running back Malkam Wallace with 18 seconds left. 

Coppell (2-0) despite starting the game on defense, scored first, with a successful 25-yard field goal by senior kicker Nicolas Radicic, following a forced punt by the defense. South Grand Prairie (0-2) quickly responded with a 30-yard run & score by junior quarterback Jaden Stanley to make it 7-3 Warriors. Not to be outdone, Fishpaw hits Darkoch on a 26-yard completion down the right sideline to set up Wallace for a 1yard score, putting the Cowboys ahead 10-7. 

The scoring wasn’t coming solely from the offense, with senior safety Matthew Williams intercepting Stanley for a 60-yard score, making it 17-7. However, South Grand Prairie never let the Cowboys get comfortable, responding with a 70-yard drive resulting in a touchdown for the Warriors. 

Though the ball kept getting put in the endzone, Coppell wasn’t closing the game in a way the coaches wanted.

 “We had so many chances in the first half to really put the game away. And we didn’t do that. As coaches we’re telling our kids, `y’all got to put the game away,” Coppell cornerbacks coach Abu Conteh said.

Unable to score a touchdown after a pass interference call set Coppell up on the 1 yard line, Radicic’s field goal gave the Cowboys a 20-13 halftime lead. The start of the third quarter was more of the same, with the Coppell offense unable to score on its opening drive and the Warriors coming alive with two quick scores by Newberry then Stanley coming either side of a Radicic 40-yard field goal. Stanley’s touchdown giving South Grand Prairie the lead, Cowboys 23, Warriors 26, with 3:38 left in the game.

“I think that’s what we did. At the end of the game, we stepped up after we got down,” Tipton said.

The Cowboys collectively responded with the comeback they needed. 

“I’ve been playing with all these brothers since fifth grade. I fall in love with the game and the people that I play with every day. So it just feels like something special whenever we go into that last quarter or last play,” Odimegwu said.

After a backfield tackle by Odimegwu, the Warriors are forced to punt, setting the Cowboys up with one final drive, 80 yards to go, 1:40 left on the clock. 

“We practice two minute drills down to perfection. All the work we put in comes down to this moment,” Tipton said. 

And execute they did, Tipton dragging six South Grand Prairie defenders on a 40-yard completion, followed by quick hits to Darkoch and Tipton again, with Wallace’s ensuing touchdown putting the Cowboys up with 18 seconds left, 30-26.

“That’s what football is about: you being there for your teammates,” Conteh said. “It takes all 11 of us. It’s all of us loving each other to get the job done on every single drive.”

Coppell plays Timber Creek at 7 p.m. Friday at Keller ISD Stadium.

Follow Sahith (@SahithMocharla) and @SidekickSports on Twitter.