Looking to end the streak

Farmers to seek first BOTA victory since 2018


Jade Slaughter

Viron Ellison (21) prepares to take on Coppell’s center back Braxton Myers (4) while Lucas Sanders (82) blocks Coppell’s linebacker Gabe Warren (9).

A passionate rivalry returns as the varsity football team prepares to host the Marcus Marauders (4-3, 3-1 district) tonight at 7 for the annual “Battle of the Axe” game (BOTA). The Marauders are riding the momentum of a homecoming win over Plano West (1-6, 0-4 district) while the Farmers (6-1, 4-0 district) look to win their sixth straight game.

“There’s a lot of noise and a lot of trash talk,” junior receiver Lamar Kerby said.

Both teams are aware this game has district championship implications every season in recent memory; in 2021, the teams shared a district co-championship with 6-1 district records as Marcus won BOTA at home 40-27. The Farmers haven’t won since 2018, but players and coaches are committed to making this game different. 

Marcus has been a notorious offensive powerhouse, creating prospects such as Garrett Nussmeier, who is currently a backup quarterback at Louisiana State University. This team is no different, as junior quarterback Cole Welliver and senior receiver Ashton Cozart are both four-star recruits, with Cozart already having made his commitment to the University of Oregon. Against Plano West, Welliver threw for 264 passing yards and five passing touchdowns, including a 49-yard touchdown to Cozart in the first quarter and three to senior receiver Isaac Khattab.

Seven returning defensive starters bolster the group for the Marauders. Senior safeties Chance Sautter and Jake Ballard have forced turnovers and incompletions all season. The duo has also taken snaps at running back, with Ballard scoring on a 7-yard rushing touchdown late in the third quarter against Plano West.

“They’re well coached [and] they’re going to be where they’re supposed to be,” assistant head coach and offensive coordinator Ross Hasten said. 

The varsity football team is coming off a strong 42-14 team win over the Plano Wildcats (4-3, 3-1 district). Junior running back Viron Ellison finally fell short of the 100-yard mark, but he did score two of the team’s four rushing touchdowns on 10 carries for 55 yards. Junior quarterback Ethan Terell and senior running back Xavier Lewis scored touchdowns of their own, and the team finished with 288 total rushing yards. Terrell and backup quarterback sophomore Zephen Walker also combined for 122 passing yards, throwing to six total receivers.

“We had about 10 to 15 guys touch the football last Friday,” Hasten said. “Xavier brings something that no one else in our district can [with] the speed that he has.”

The defense executed as well, limiting Plano to just two touchdowns and 183 offensive yards. Senior quarterback Drew Forkner was under pressure for most of the game, as he was only able to complete five passes including a touchdown on 12 attempts.

“Plano’s actually a pretty good team,” senior defensive lineman Mason Johnson said. “Our defense being able to stop their offense was great [for us].”

Johnson was a force for the team against Plano, as he recorded the game’s only sack and led the team with eight tackles. Late in the second quarter, Johnson also intercepted one of Forkner’s passes and returned it 20 yards to put the team up by three possessions before halftime.

“I’m very quick off my feet,” Johnson said. “When anyone gets out I’m able to track them down and tackle [them] with ease.”

Every week, the goals remain unchanged: lock in, win the game and improve the team’s skills regardless of who’s on the other side of the football. Still, as posters line the halls of the crosstown rivals’ campuses, emotions and excitement are brewing.

“We want to make it like a regular game, but it’s also a rivalry,” Johnson said. “We want to have fun.”