NOVEMBER 3, 2006 COVINGTON | game stats |
|Seth Mohler established school records in receptions and touchdowns.
The scene of many Buccaneer players kneeling down around the number 28 painted at mid field after Covington's heartbreaking 41-20 defeat at the hands of Marion Local is a reminder of what kind of bond kids build together on the football field.
In such a painful moment, after giving so much only to come up short, the kids payed tribute to their teammate Dan Rindler - teammate who's memory they have kept with them throughout the past two seasons.
"These kids are a special group," said Covington coach Kevin Finfrock. "They have developed a bond and really care for each other and they played like it all season. I'm very proud of these young men."
Finfrock has reason to be proud, not only for what the Buccs accomplished with a 10-0 regular season, but for the way they played against a powerful Marion Local team.
After falling behind 9-0 in the first quarter, Covington battled back on a 36-yard touchdown run by Gene Studebaker and a 10-yard fumble recovery for a touchdown by Drew Craft to cut the margin to 15-14 at the half.
One play, however, could have given Covington even more momentum as an apparent fumble recovery by Seth Mohler, who had clear sailing to the end zone, was ruled down by contact.
Still, the Buccs were right where they wanted to be.
"I felt very confident at half time because we had some momentum," describe Finfrock. "We were playing well and had some confidence going into the second half."
The Buccaneer momentum carried over into the second half as they held Marion Local on its opening possession.
A short punt gave Covington excellent field position for its first possession of the half, but the Buccs were never able to capitalize and were force to punt.
"When we had a great defensive stand to open the second half, I thought it was critical we come down and score," Finfrock said. "But, we had a penalty right off the bat that pushed us back."
Marion Local capitalized on its next possession as Chris Stucke broke free from 71 yards out to push the Flyer lead to 21-14.
Covington responded by moving the ball down the field as Studebaker ripped off a 45-yard run to put the Buccs in scoring position.
The drive never resulted in points as Marc Otte made a spectacular play in the end zone to pull down an interception.
The Flyers then drove 80 yards for the score as Otte plowed in from the one to increase the margin to 27-14
Like they have done all season long, the Buccs wouldn't give in.
The Studebaker to Mohler combination gave Marion fits as the Buccs once again moved the ball into scoring position.
This time Covington would hit pay dirt as Studebaker hit Mohler for a 25-yard touchdown on the first play of the fourth quarter. The point-after attempt failed, but Covington was within striking distance once again, 27-20.
But, the Marion Local running game was taking its tole on the Covington defense as Otte and company moved the ball into scoring position again. Otte capped the drive with a three-yard touchdown run to put Covington in dire straights, 34-20.
Looking to get back into the game quickly, the Buccs took their shots down the field and managed to move the ball into Marion Local territory. Unfortunately for the Covington faithful, the drive stalled and the Buccs turned the ball over on downs.
Marion Local then capped and impressive second half with a fourth Otte touchdown to make the final score 41-20.
"Marion's offensive line began to wear us down in the second half and Otte is a hard runner," complemented Finfrock. "They are a darn good football team, but we had our chances. When you get down by two scores late in a game against a team like that, it's hard to come back. But our kids never quit and played hard until the end."
The defeat ends Covington's season at 10-1 after capturing a Poll Championship awarded by the Associated Press.
"I don't care what anyone says, that (the Poll Championship) means a lot," said Finfrock. "These kids worked very hard and hard work is always rewarded. They earned that."
The evening also brought to an end the careers of some outstanding seniors, including two of the most gifted athletes Covington has ever witnessed at one time.
Gene Studebaker and Seth Mohler leave with school records on their resume.
Studebaker set the school rushing record of 1726 yards as a junior and then rushed for 1447 yards as a senior. He also threw for 1408 yards his senior year.
Mohler established a new receiving record in catches (51) and touchdowns (15) and fell just eight yards short to his brother, Ross, in yards (940).
"These two kids are amazing athletes, but you wouldn't know it by talking to them," praised Finfrock. "They are so humble and such great leaders. I hope there are little kids in Covington who watched them and want to emulate them. They are very special young men."
Just like the rest of the Buccs.