Cove to host Heart of Texas Bowl this weekend
Updated: December 5, 2014
Clay Whittington | Herald staff writer
COPPERAS COVE, TX – It is a way of saying, “Thank you.”
After being embraced by the community of Copperas Cove, longtime Bulldawgs head football coach and athletic director Jack Welch, who arrived in 1994, wanted to give back.
Welch established the CHAMPS Heart of Texas Bowl in 2001, and over the years, it has grown to encompass an entire day with Bulldawg Stadium hosting both a junior college and a NCAA Division II game.
In reality, the HOT Bowl is not about football, though.
“The original inspiration was to bring tourism to Copperas Cove,” Welch said. “We always go around the city, asking people for sponsorships to help the school and to help our athletic programs. We saw this as a way of bringing people into our town to help those merchants.”
Although Welch hopes to increase the city’s income, he believes fans will enjoy some exciting football in the process.
Saturday’s opening game pits No. 3 Trinity Valley against No. 10 Coffeyville (Kan.) at 11 a.m.
“That is by far, except for the national title game, the best junior college game in the country,” Welch said.
Trinity Valley, which sports former Copperas Cove standout receiver Phillip Baptiste on its roster, enters the game with an unblemished 11-0 record, while Coffeyville is 9-2.
At 6 p.m., Lone Star Conference champion Texas A&M-Commerce (8-3) will face Oklahoma’s East Central (6-4).
“I think the Division II game is going to be a real barnburner,” Welch said. “It’s going to be a tremendous football game.”
While the games might not be filled with current household names, it is quite possible fans could witness some superstars in the making.
“We’ve had some of the greatest players in the country come in here,” Welch said. “(Current Carolina Panthers quarterback) Cam Newton was on the Blinn team a few years ago. We’ve had guys that went on into the NFL.”
In the end, though, it is not about the players who come through Copperas Cove. Rather, the HOT Bowl is for those who reside within the city limits.
“It brings a lot of extra business into town,” Welch said.
“These people traveling for the games are 100 percent reliant on Copperas Cove for meals and gasoline while they’re in town. A lot of them will do some shopping, so we’re excited about that.”