Copeland makes an impact in season opener
Published 6:52 pm Tuesday, August 21, 2018
Pike Liberal Arts linebacker Max Copeland doesn’t hide any emotions while on the football field, and opposing offenses know when he is on the field. He made his presence known in the Patriots’ 20-14 overtime win over Morgan Academy last Friday night.
After last season, the Patriots were forced to replace key members of the defense including Reed Jinright, BJ Burke and Camden Koenning. One holdover on the Patriot defense was Copeland.
Copeland got off to a good start when he finished last Friday’s season opener with 13 solo tackles and two assisted tackles.
“Max was a beast,” said head coach Gene Allen. “He got hurt in the first half, but he never comes out of the game. He is the emotional leader and he works hard. He is going to give you everything every play. He is another one of those great kids who is going to work his tail off and get better and better.”
Copeland believes that his strong play was a testament to how well the defense played as a whole against the Senators.
“I really don’t worry about individual stats,” Copeland said. “To be honest I was just happy with how the defense played. Holding Morgan to two touchdowns, especially with how many times we let them in the red zone, is a really big accomplishment.
As a leader, Copeland finds it important to be the voice on the field and on the sideline for the Patriots.
“Throughout the game I just want to make sure that I am a common voice,” Copeland said. “I think I do a good job at that and I try to do it throughout the game.”
Staying on the field is also an important trait when it comes to being a leader. Despite getting banged up in the first half, Copeland stayed in the game and wrapped up 15 total tackles.
“I definitely don’t want to come off the field,” Copeland said. “This isn’t directed to any of my teammates at all, but I just believe I can do the job better than anyone else can. I think I can get the job done no matter what the circumstances are.”
While on the field, Copeland wears his passion on his sleeve. After making a big tackle he quickly lets out a yell that can be heard all throughout the stadium.
“I think it’s something that is just inside of me,” Copeland said. “It’s nothing that I really think about. They give me a hard time about it. Watching film on Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays, they give me a hard time for my excitement. When I make a tackle or my teammate makes a tackle, I just get excited.”
It’s a moment to let out all of his emotions after a long, hot summer.
“It’s definitely not something that crosses your mind,” Copeland said. “When it happens, all the hard work in practice and all the drills you do, you see where it works in a game and it’s exciting.”
Copeland is part of a linebacker corps that includes Chip Faircloth and Nick O’Brian and Jackson Senn.
“We have a fantastic group of linebackers –myself, Chip Faircloth, Nick O’Brian and Jackson Senn,” Copeland said. “On Friday night, our defensive line did a really good job and made us look good. They drew a lot of double teams and got pressure on the quarterbacks. It made us look a whole lot better.”
As a Mike linebacker, Copeland’s main objective is to control the line of scrimmage and stop the run.
“The first job is to stop the run,” Copeland said. “Most teams are going to run more than they pass. If you can stop the run, most of the time you are going to win the game.”
Even though the Patriots’ defense allowed just two touchdowns, they did let up big plays to the Senators last Friday night. In their first two drives of the game, the Senators hit two plays that went over 50 yards.
“As a defense, big plays are something we need to cut down on,” Copeland said. “We did a fantastic job on Friday night, but big plays really killed us. There were two or three times where we gave up 50-plus-yard plays. To be successful, we really don’t need to do that.”