As painful as the season-ending loss was in the Regional Semi-Finals, the Covington Buccaneers of 2007 will be remembered as over achievers - kids who exceeded the expectations of everyone but themselves.
|Brock Iddings and the Buccs gave fans plenty of thrills in 2007.
Go back to early August. The Covington football program had went through so much change that the majority of locals didn't know what to expect.
Gone was a very talented senior class with the likes of Gene Studebaker, Seth Mohler, Drew Craft and Corey Patty. A coaching change was also in place as Dave Miller took over for a successful coach in Kevin Finfrock.
Due to the graduation losses and the understanding that the kids would need time to learn a new system, the word on the street was a 6-4 or 7-3 record would be a very respectable season for the Buccs.
Wow, did Dave Miller and his Buccaneers exceed those expectations.
The ironic thing about it was Miller saw the potential for a highly successful season from day one, which obviously set the tone for what transpired.
He knew the talent was there. All he did was simplify things for the kids in regards to how good football is to be played.
Many times over the course of summer camps, two-a-days and in-season practices the kids heard Miller state, "If you give maximum effort on every single play, the scoreboard will take care of itself."
The message was a simple one and the kids took to what their coach was preaching.
It started in practice as the kids learned what Coach Miller meant by giving maximum effort. It took time for them to fully understand because they were also learning what their bodies were capable of doing.
The general public didn't really see Miller's work until the Versailles scrimmage. A team with numerous questions showcased signs of what this team could become with a very impressive showing.
There were mistakes made due to the learning process of a new system, but the effort the kids gave was obvious and became the talk of the town. Suddenly many began to question their own predictions of a modest record for the Buccs.
A week later Covington opened the season at New Bremen. Understandably, the offense was still not refined, but the effort on both sides of the ball stood out most. Plus, the defense was phenomenal, preserving a hard-fought win that took two days to complete.
After a convincing victory over Bradford and a young Tri-County North team, the Buccs made another statement at Miami East. Despite having three touchdowns called back due to penalties, Covington captured a 28-10 win - only surrendering a field goal to the Viking offense.
Those who were not convinced of Covington's potential for a conference championship and a play-off birth became believers the following week in a Homecoming battle against unbeaten Twin Valley South. Again, the Buccaneer defense was stellar, holding the Panthers to just 7 points - which was the first touchdown of the season scored on the starting defense.
The offense also showcased its supremacy with 21 points as it became obvious that bigger and better things we still ahead for a Buccaneer squad that was playing solid football as a team.
A convincing shutout of National Trail followed to set up a huge match-up with Ansonia - who was a preseason favorite of many to be at the top of the CCC at season's end.
Covington put together its most impressive offensive performance of the season in building a 48-7 lead late in the third quarter. Although Ansonia scored two more touchdowns late in the game, the dominance the Buccaneers displayed only added to the anticipation of what was ahead for this impressive team.
The Buccs continued to roll with a shutout over Arcanum and a 49-21 victory over Mississinawa Valley to set up the regular season finale at Bethel.
In what many have indicated was Covington's toughest opponent of the year, a finally healthy Bethel team gave the Buccs four quarters of physical football. Covington was up to the task and pulled out a 28-20 victory to secure a 10-0 record and a spot in the state play-offs as the second seed.
The play-off victory over Portsmouth Notre Dame and the controversial loss to Lehman followed, but those two games were the icing on the cake for a team that exceeded our expectations as fans.
Looking back, the way these 34 players grew together as a team and the way Coach Miller was able to get the most out of the kids makes every Buccaneer supporter proud of what this team accomplished.
It made Buccaneer fans take notice and excited for the likelihood of bigger and better things for the future.
Hopefully there are other kids roaming Covington High School that took notice as well. If you are one, ask any one of the players what it's like to play football for Dave Miller. You'll probably like what you hear.