July 16, 2008 - WEST MILTON
|Jeff Zimmerman makes a catch for the Buccs.
Since the very first day Dave Miller took over the Covington football program he has stressed the importance of giving maximum effort in every aspect of the game - in the weight room and on the field.
"In order to get to that level (the elite level), we need every kid to lay it all on the line on every play," said Miller. "In order to do that it (giving maximum effort) has to become a habit. It's not a natural thing for kids to do, but it's something they can learn to do."
Throughout the entire 2007 season the Buccs received on-the-job training in effort and the result was a memorable season, although it ended prematurely as the team expected to reach the next level.
"Later in the year it started to click with the kids," Miller explained in regards to giving the effort needed to reach lofty goals. "But we came up short of reaching that level because we weren't consistent."
If Thursday's passing scrimmage at Milton is any indication, the Buccs have the potential of reaching the next level this year.
"We made great improvement since the scrimmage at Centerville last week," said Miller. "The kids handled adversity very well and gave a lot of effort. We had kids flying around making plays tonight."
Covington began the scrimmage against Greenon as senior Chris Long went 5-for-5 in taking the Buccs down the field on the first drive.
"Cookie played well, but he had some problems with cramps," Miller explained. "He came back a little later and made some nice plays as a halfback."
Sophomore Jake Bitner took over behind center and proved himself a talented youngster with some impressive throws. Bitner also made some plays in the defensive secondary.
"Jake did a nice job of executing the offense and making good decisions," praised the Covington coach. "He also had a nice interception and knocked down a few balls in the secondary."
The Buccs then took on Carlisle and continued playing at a high level over the first half of the scrimmage against the Indians. But a lackluster second half of the scrimmage left Miller displeased.
"We played well against Greenon and the first half against Carlisle, but we had a lull in the second half," Miller said. "We have to learn to play at a high level all the time - not just most of the time. It's consistency we need to work on."
To Miller's pleasure, his Buccaneers responded in a big way in the final scrimmage against Milton.
"That was a physical scrimmage and that's what I like to see - us flying around and going all out on every play," he said. "Our linebackers and ends were more physical than I've seen them at any point this year. Our DBs were flying to the ball and we executed well offensively."
The fact that the team performed well against a team like Milton left a positive impression on the coach.
" I don't know the score and I don't really care, but we played Milton pretty even," said Miller. "They have a very good program down here and I felt our kids were right there. It was two physical football teams going at it, which is good for us."
What also pleased Coach Miller was the leadership he saw from his players - and not only the upperclassman.
"Logan Woloch (a senior) was a leader out there in the secondary," Miller said. "It's starting to click with him. He's a senior and if this was any indication he really wants to make the most of it. He made several nice plays tonight. Corey Haines (sophomore), Jeff Zimmmerman (junior) and Jake Stewart (sophomore) also did a fine job in the secondary."
Granted, scrimmages don't go on the record, but there importance to a successful season can't be overlooked.
"This is where we get better," Miller explained. "Last year the turning point for us was this scrimmage and we're hoping it's a turning point for us this year. It all starts in the weight room and this was the best year we've had in there. But we haven't carried that over to the field until tonight. Hopefully we continue to take our play to a higher level each and every day from here on out. If we do that, we can be as good as anyone."
Which will hopefully lead to the elite level.