FEBRUARY 1, 2021
Each year, Coppell and Marcus battle for the district title. The so-called “rivalry” game began decades ago as Marcus and Coppell have always been two of the top teams in the area, constantly battling it out for district titles and playoff spots.
It wasn’t until Marcus hired Chad Rakestraw, the former Coppell coach who led the Cowboys to three state finals, winning two of them, within five years prior to taking on the Marcus job that the rivalry began. Last year, former Coppell assistant Craig Able took on the Marcus assistant role and further fueled the Cowboys drive to beat them.
Coming off a 2-0 win against Plano West (2-6, 1-1 in District 6-6A) on Friday night, the Cowboys (5-5-1, 1-1) host Marcus (8-0-2, 2-0), TX’s no. 2 and the nation’s no.11 team, in the rivalry match tomorrow at Buddy Echols Field, with kickoff at 7:30 p.m.
“We had to fight for the win [on Friday],” Coppell senior defender Diego Navarro said. “It wasn’t easy to [score], we got it off of a throw-in. We don’t usually score goals like that. The biggest challenge was to keep them from scoring, we kind of struggled with that but [we pulled through].”
Coming into practice this week, Coppell focused on defense, shots, finishing and communication.
“We’re definitely going to have to focus on our defense, [Marcus’] attack is pretty good,” Coppell sophomore forward Nic Radicic said. “If we can get the ball up to our forward we’re definitely going to score.”
Marcus graduated forward Tomas Pondeca and midfielder Harvey Castro, both of whom were 2019 Allstate All-Americans, as well as forward Sam Coad last year. Pondeca was selected to the U.S. Soccer Futsal National team and Castro/Coad went on to play Division I soccer, with Castro at midfielder at Southern Methodist University and Coad at forward for University of North Carolina at Greensboro.
Left from its dominant core that led Marcus to a 19-1-1 overall record last year and a district title is 2019-20 Newcomer of the Year junior forward Zac Castro, junior defender Woody Pondeca and senior midfielder Porter Pomykal, the younger brothers of Harvey, Tomas and FC Dallas midfielder Paxton Pomykal.
“If we beat Marcus, a lot of teams are going to be scared of us,” Radicic said. “Whoever beats us or Marcus is a good team.”
The Cowboys currently sit in third place of District 6-6A, while Marcus holds first place after being the only team to win the first two matches of district so far. Winning tomorrow’s match would keep Coppell in the top half of the district and on pace for a district title but a loss would potentially put it in the bottom half of the district.
Along with Coppell senior forward Brandon Gast returning from a groin injury, the Cowboys return their top goal scorer in senior forward Sebastian Flores as he regains eligibility.
“[This game] is the whole season,” Gast said. “This is what we’ve been training for and everyone is fired up. Marcus is going to be our best opponent, we’re going to come out and show them what Coppell is all about at home.”