It's been a long time coming for Cooper Bledsoe.

The three-year starter at safety has always averaged more than 10 tackles per game and often times has been in consideration for ETSN.fm + Dairy Queen Defensive Player of the Week. This is the senior's breakthrough week.

Bledsoe turned in one of the best performances of his career in Van's most important game of the season thus far, a 33-14 win Friday against Kaufman to ensure at least a share of the District 8-4A Division I championship. He recorded a region-best 22 tackles, a seventh interception on the season and recovered a fumble in the three-possession victory.

Regional coaches are still sending in their Week 10 game stats, but Bledsoe is currently believed to be one of two interceptions leaders in East Texas. He was in a three-person tie ahead of the week with six picks and was one of two from that group to add another interception last week.

Whitehouse defensive back Javier Neal is the other player known to have seven picks through the season.

Van (9-0, 5-0) took an enormous step toward winning its district's championship outright last week as well as completing a second perfect regular season in three years. Kaufman was easily the best team it faced since a non-district game against Palestine on Sept. 16.

Terrell, a dropdown from Class 5A in realignment, is this week's challenge as the regular season comes to a close. It only has one district loss -- which came to Kaufman -- and could tie for the district title with a win at its home stadium.

The Vandals' upcoming opponent has the third-best scoring offense in the district behind Kaufman and Van, so Bledsoe and the rest of the defense will have to be up for the challenge.

ETSN.fm/Dairy Queen Defensive Players of the Week