|RUNNIN' HARD...is what fullback Garrett Clark did as he tallied 141 rushing yards against North.
SEPTEMBER 5, 2008 - LEWISBURG
A young Covington Buccaneers football team has faced enough adversity since the first day of two-a-days to last an entire season. Player suspensions, injuries, a third period breakdown in the scrimmage against Versailles, and the first season opening loss since 1994 - it has all happened to a football team with just five seniors on the roster.
But with each adverse situation the Buccaneers have managed to overcome with hard work, preparation and a commitment to stick together as a team.
This was never more evident than in Friday's 49-20 victory over Tri-County North as the Buccs scored all 49 points in the first half.
"These kids work very hard and we're starting to see the results," said Covington coach Dave Miller after his team racked up 426 total yards in the first half alone. "We got some guys back, had a nice week of practice and gelled a little bit for the first time. This was a great team effort."
It didn't take long for the Buccs to get rolling as Tri-County North turned the ball over on its first possession.
A few plays later sophomore quarterback Jake Bitner dove over from the one as the Buccaneer line caved in the large defensive front of the Panthers.
"Our offensive line came off the ball low and hard tonight," Miller explained. "They (Tri-County North) have some big boys over there, but we played them very physical tonight."
Some shuffling on the line made a big difference.
"We moved Jordy (Meyer) to guard and Darrin (Clark) to tackle," Miller continued. "We got Adam (Craft) back at center and moved Ben (Christian) to the other guard. We kept Cody (Swabb) at the other tackle spot and things just clicked. The offensive line dominated the line of scrimmage."
The Buccaneer defensive line dominated as well against a team that averaged well over 230 pounds up front and had tackles that went 295 and 300 pounds.
"Ben (Christian) and Brandon (Powell) played really well defensively," praised Miller. "Ben has been getting better and better each day and Brandon is just a freshman, but he's done an outstanding job replacing (Josh) Boehringer."
With the Buccaneers controlling the line of scrimmage, the offense scored on every possession of the first half.
The Buccs' second score came on another one-yard run by Bitner and the sophomore followed with a 17-yard jaunt to increase the lead to 21-0.
After the Panthers scored on a 79-yard kickoff return, the Buccs waisted little time getting the momentum back.
Chris (Cookie) Long broke loose for a 65-yard touchdown run, his first score of the season.
"I would have liked us to put together a long, sustained drive," Miller said. "But when you can score on big plays like that, we'll take it. Our backs ran hard, but it was our line that just finished blocks and opened some big holes for us."
The Buccaneers were not perfect, however, as a breakdown on defense opened up a 42-yard touchdown run by the Panthers midway through the second quarter to close the gap to 28-12.
"We talk about consistency and we're still not there yet," said Miller. "It starts in practice and we had two pretty good weeks of practice, but not great weeks. We still haven't found that consistency yet."
One thing that was consistent in the second quarter for Covington was the big play as the Buccaneer lineman continued to wear down the Panther defensive front.
Bitner raced 65 yards for his fourth touchdown of the game and Garrett Clark scored on a 57-yard run and closed out the first half with a four-yard run.
"Garrett ran hard tonight," said Miller of his fullback who carried 17 times for 141 yards. "We got Cookie (Chris Long) back this week and we're starting to gel a little bit. Jake (Bitner) did a great job with his reads and made good decisions with the football."
With the game well in hand Covington did all it could to kill the clock in the second half - running between the tackles on virtually every play.
The Buccs gradually mixed in the younger kids until the entire second unit was on the field late in the third quarter.
Tri-County North took advantage with their first unit scoring on a 54-yard touchdown run and a two-point conversion with just over 5:00 to go to make the score 49-20.
Then the Panthers successfully attempted an on-side kick.
Although the trickery worked initially, the Buccaneers shut the door on the Panthers two plays later as the Covington defensive starters forced one last fumble to end matters.
With the big victory in hand, the celebration is short lived as the Buccs focus on next week's match-up with Miami East.
"The kids are looking forward to it (playing Miami East)," the Buccaneer coach said. "They understand what's a stake. Miami East is a good football team with everyone back from last year. They (Miami East) are a team playing with confidence right now."
Which makes the competitive juices flow.
"The challenge (of playing a good team) is what you play this game for," Miller continued. "This (a big game) is what football is all about. Hopefully our kids are up to the challenge."
A challenge and another adverse situation the young Buccs look to overcome.