The Cooper Cougars enter the 2022 season riding a streak of 15 years of reaching the state football playoffs, the longest streak in program history. The Cougars have reached the playoffs in 27 of the last 30 seasons dating back to the 1992 season.

Earlier this year during the biennial UIL realignment, Cooper’s enrollment sent the Cougars down to Class 5A Division II where they’ll be in District 2-5A along with pre-season district favorite Wichita Falls Rider, Abilene Wylie, Amarillo Palo Duro, Plainview, and Lubbock High.

Rider was 12-2 overall and won its district championship at 4-1, reaching the regional quarterfinals. The other four teams in the district combined to go 15-25 overall and 3-19 in district play, and none reached the playoffs In their previous districts. Dave Campbell’s Texas Football magazine has Rider as the district favorite with Cooper picked to finish second, followed by Wylie, Palo Duro, Plainview, and Lubbock High.

“Rider has played deep into the playoffs for a while now, and I believe they’ll be the district favorite,” said Cooper’s Aaron Roan, who enters his fifth season as the Cougars’ head coach with a career record of 30-15. “The rest of the district will be a battle for the other three playoff spots.”

The Cougars, who were young at the skill positions in 2021, return dual-threat quarterback Chris Warren, Mikei Flye at running back, and Cameron Herron at wide receiver, giving the Cougars a good starting point in those spots. Warren threw for 1,469 yards and 13 touchdowns last season and added 537 yards and five touchdowns on the ground. Flye, meanwhile, ran for 369 yards and six touchdowns. Herron caught 36 passes for 606 yards and nine touchdowns.

The offensive line is young, however, and that is an area where Roan has some concerns going into the season.

“Last year we had experienced players up front and we were young at the skills positions, and this year it’s the opposite,” Roan said. “The guys we do have who played last year up front need to build on the experiences learned from last year, and if we can do that, we’ll be fine.”

On the other side of the ball, the linebacking corps should be the backbone of the Cougars’ defense with first team All-District 3-5A Division I selection Johnathan Vanwinkle, second team all-district pick JaQuinton Gates, and Za’Kyree Sims all returning.

Vanwinkle had 78 tackles, 12 tackles for loss, six sacks, and three fumble recoveries in a dominating 2021 campaign. Gates was just as dominant as he posted 70 tackles, 11 tackles for loss, three sacks, and one fumble recovery. Sims had 27 tackles, five tackles for loss, and two sacks in 2021.

Those three will be the key to holding up the defense against a tough non-district that includes games against Abilene High, Lubbock Coronado, San Angelo Central, Keller, and Odessa Permian.

“Depth is something we’ve got to continue to build with this team,” Roan said. “If we can progress through the non-district schedule and continue to improve, we can be very competitive in district play.”



Coach (seasons as head coach / overall record): Aaron Roan (5th season / 30-15)

Last season (overall record, district record, district finish): 6-5 overall (4-3, 4th place in District 3-5A Division I)

Last playoff appearance (year, result): 2021 (Lost 1st round to Colleyville Heritage)

Last district championship (year): 2020 (6-0 in District 3-5A Division I)

2022 District and Opponents: District 2-5A Division II (Wichita Falls Rider, Abilene Wylie, Amarillo Palo Duro, Plainview, Lubbock High)

Lettermen Returning / Lost: 20/28

Starters Returning: 6 offense / 5 defense

Top Returners (name, classification, position, 2021 honors): Chris Warren, sr, QB (2nd team All-District 3-5A Division I); Cameron Herron, sr, WR (1st team All-District 3-5A Division I); D’Andre Ralston, sr, WR; Mikei Flye, sr, RB; Jonathan Vanwinkle, sr, LB (1st team All-District 3-5A Division I); JaQuinton Gates, sr, LB; Michael Ramis, sr, DB (2nd team All-District 3-5A Division I); Lucas David, jr, LB; JaQuinton Gates, sr, LB (2nd team All-District 3-5A Division I).

Top Newcomers (name, classification, position): Jaylen Parker, jr, WR; Elijah Stevenson, jr, DB; G Carter, soph, OL.

2022 Team Strengths –  Experience at skill position and overall work ethic of the team.

2022 Team Weaknesses –  Lack of experience along both offensive and defensive lines, as well as overall depth.

2022 Team Goals –  Progress weekly, compete for district championship/playoffs.               

Coach Roan says:  “We have a challenging non-district schedule that will prepare us for district play.  I believe if we progress and improve each week, we can compete for a district championship and work to make a playoff run. Wichita Falls Rider is the front runner in the district. Their program has a tradition of playing deep in the playoffs and has a ton of talent.”

2022 Cooper Schedule

Thurs., Aug. 25 – vs. Keller, 7 p.m. (Shotwell Stadium)

Fri., Sept. 2 – vs. Abilene High, 7 p.m. (Abilene High is the home team; Shotwell Stadium)

Fri., Sept. 9 – vs. San Angelo Central, 7 p.m. (Shotwell Stadium)

Fri., Sept. 16 – at Lubbock Coronado, 4 p.m. (Lowery Field)

Fri., Sept. 23 – at Odessa Permian, 7 p.m. (Ratliff Stadium)

*Fri., Oct. 7 – at Wichita Falls Rider, 7 p.m. (Memorial Stadium)

*Fri., Oct. 14 – vs. Amarillo Palo Duro, 7 p.m. (Shotwell Stadium)

*Fri., Oct. 21 – at Plainview, 7 p.m. (Memorial Stadium)

*Fri., Oct. 28 – vs. Lubbock High, 7 p.m. (Showell Stadium)

*Fri., Nov. 4 – at Wylie, 7 p.m. (Hugh Sandifer Stadium)


* District 2-5A Division II game