|SENIOR LEADS THE WAY... was Logan Woloch, who scored two touchdowns in leading the Buccs to a play-off spot with a 42-19 win over Bethel.
OCTOBER 24, 2008 - COVINGTON
The Covington Buccaneers secured a play-off spot and potentially a home play-off game with a convincing 42-19 victory over Bethel in the regular season finale at Smith Field on Friday.
It's the ninth time in the past ten years the Buccaneers have qualified for the state play-offs.
"With all the adversity we've faced and for as young as we are, this (making the play-offs) is a great position for us to be in," said Covington coach Dave Miller. "I'm so proud of how these kids responded to adversity this season. We're not done yet, but to be where we are right now is gratifying."
The Buccs, who have had as many as 20 kids miss action this season primarily due to injuries, managed to overcome two losses early in the season to win their last seven games.
"We've come a long way as a football teams since the Miami East game," Miller continued. "We can go a lot further as long as we have the right attitude and approach things with the right mindset."
Covington's first round opponent will be officially announced on Sunday, but it does appear as though the Buccs will be playing at the friendly confines of Smith Field.
"That would be big (playing at home)," said Miller. "If that's the case, to be playing a play-off game at home is pretty positive considering what we've went through to get here."
Covington appeared to be in a dogfight in the early going against Bethel as Jordan Holtvogt took the opening kick-off 92 yards for the score.
The Buccs then were stopped a few inches short on a fourth-and-one on their first possession as Bethel appeared to have all of the momentum needed to play spoiler in the Buccs' play-off hopes.
But the Buccaneer defense rose to the occasion and shut down the Bee offense, giving the ball back to its own offense midway through the first quarter.
Covington waisted little time knotting the score at 7-7 as Garrett Clark burst up the middle through the heart of the Bethel defense for a 28-yard touchdown run.
The junior fullback eventually broke the 1,000-yard barrier with 102 yards on the night on just 14 carries.
"That (Clark reaching 1,000 yards) is a great accomplishment for the team," Miller said. "Those guys up front (the lineman) take great pride in that. Those kids take pride in being a part of that group (the offensive line) and to have a 1,000-yard rusher and another closing in on 1,000 yards (Jake Bitner) says a lot about our offensive line."
Clark's season total stands at 1,020, while Bitner is at 870 yards and the duo has tallied those numbers behind a line consisting of primarily three freshman (Darren Clark, Sam Christian, Brandon Powell), one sophomore (Josh Boehringer), two juniors (Ben Christian and Jordy Meyer) and a senior (Cody Swabb).
"As young as we are up front, that's impressive (having backs put up numbers like that)," Miller continued. "Everything we do starts up front and those kids have done a nice job this year."
Covington extended its lead to 14-7 by the end of the first quarter as Jake Bitner connected with Logan Woloch down the seam for a 24-yard scoring strike.
Bitner then took matters into his own hands (or feet) on the Buccs' next drive by weaving his way in from 15 yards out to push the Buccaneer lead to 21-7 early in the second quarter.
Covington would score twice more before the half as Clark barreled his way in from the two and Bitner found Woloch for a 24-yard touchdown strike to put the Buccs up 35-7 at the break.
Bitner connected on five of seven passes for 91 yards and two touchdowns. He did have one pass picked off that was returned for a touchdown in the third quarter.
"Other than the one interception, Jake threw the ball very well tonight," Miller praised. "The passing game was something we wanted to get going tonight and I think we were able to do that."
The interception happened on the opening possession of the second half as Ben Schweiterman stepped in front of Bitner's pass and raced 71 yards for the score.
"That was a missed read," Miller explained. "We should have hit Logan (Woloch) down the seam, but that's something we'll work on."
Covington fumbled on its next possession and once again Bethel was able to capitalize on the mistake as Schweiterman connected with Matthew Kley from four yards out to cut the margin to 35-19.
But Covington's first unit put the finishing touches on an impressive night as Bitner drove in from the two to make the score 42-19.
From there the junior varsity unit took over and preserved the win - even coming up with a goal-line stand after turning the ball over inside the ten.
"That goal-line stand by the younger kids was impressive," said Miller. "We had the fumble there that gave them the ball around the five. But the kids dug in and actually moved them back. I think they lost yardage on four straight plays. That was a big confidence builder for the younger kids."
Covington defense overall was impressive as it surrendered just 68 yards of offense to the visiting Bees.
"We played very well defensively," the Buccaneer coach continued. "Bethel's an athletic group too. They have some size and decent speed at the skill positions. The kids stayed disciplined, read their keys and did their job. Solid effort defensively."
With the victory Covington's record stands at 8-2 overall and 8-1 in the CCC, good for second in the conference behind Miami East.
Now the Buccs wait for the computer to spit out the results to see who they play and where.
As previously mentioned, it's likely Covington will be playing at home - which didn't seem possible just seven weeks ago.