|ROYALTY...is the 2008 Homecoming Queen, Krissi Tobias.
|STEPPIN' UP...is what junior and first-year player Josh McMillions did as he picked off a pass in the first half.
SEPTEMBER 26, 2008 - COVINGTON
The Covington Buccaneers have faced more adversity and misfortune this season than in any the season in recent memory.
Already missing Andy Sparks, Chris Long, Joe Evans and Quentin Layman, the Buccs lost Josh Boehringer, Adam Craft and Logan Woloch in last week's game against Twin Valley South and then lost Sam Earick this week in practice.
With all the injuries, the Covington sideline looks like the walking wounded.
"I can't remember ever seeing this many injuries like we've had this year," said Covington coach Dave Miller. "It tough (the injuries) because every time you turn around it seems like someone is injured. But you have to persevere and overcome because the teams we play aren't going to feel sorry for us."
The Buccs were able to overcome the adversity last week and once again Friday night with a convincing 41-28 homecoming victory over National Trail.
"This is a good win considering the circumstances and how beat up we are right now," Miller said. "We had a lot of young guys step up tonight and make plays."
The Buccaneers had three freshman step in at times on the offensive and defensive lines.
"Brandon Powell played both ways at Center and Nose Guard," continued Miller. "Darren Clark and Sam Christian also played a lot on both sides of the ball."
Two more first-year players also saw significant action as well.
"We used Josh McMillion and Aaron Devenport a lot defensively as well," Miller explained. "They're both juniors, but first-year guys. Josh had a nice pick (interception)."
One player who has missed most of the season was able to return, although not at full strength.
Still, Chris "Cookie" Long had a significant impact as he caught a 50-yard touchdown pass from Jake Bitner, returned some kicks and played much of the first half in the defensive secondary.
"It's good to have Cookie back," Miller said. "He gives us another dimension offensively and he's sound defensively."
Long's touchdown catch made the score 14-7 as the Buccs had already reached pay dirt earlier on a 36-yard run by sophomore Jake Stewart, who was moved into the backfield in place of Logan Woloch.
Covington then increased the margin to 34-7 by half time on a 91-yard run by Garrett Clark, a 6-yard run by Stewart and a 9-yard run by Bitner.
All coming behind an offensive line with two freshman in the lineup.
"The thing about it is we are getting a lot of kids some experience," stated Miller. "This only bodes well for us later in the season when we do get some of those guys back."
The Buccaneers continued to roll in the third quarter as Garrett Clark capped an impressive drive with his second touchdown run of the night, this time from six yards out.
Clark ended the game with 130 yards on 13 carries, while Bitner tallied 105 yards on 12 carries.
Those all came in less than three quarters as the Buccaneers substituted throughout much of the second half and had the junior varsity on the field for the entire fourth quarter.
And back-up fullback back Cory Ely and freshman Isaah Winston seized the opportunity. Ely rushed 13 times for 89 yards, while Winston had 28 yards on four carries. Winston also reached the end zone for the first time in his career, but it was taken away with one of Covington's nine penalties on the night.
"We had some mistakes, particularly penalties and fumbles that we need to correct," said Miller. "We had some issues with our mesh and that hasn't happened much this year. Obviously those are things we need to address in practice this week."
While Covington had it's second and third units on the field, the Blazers took advantage by scoring three touchdowns in the final seven minutes of the game.
Two of those came in 16 seconds as the Blazers connected on a 71-yard pass and then returned a fumble for the score on the ensuing kickoff.
Still, the Buccs had enough cushion on the scoreboard to allow the second unit to put together an impressive drive to kill the clock with the ball deep in National Trail territory.
"I'm pleased with the way the kids responded (to the adversity) this week," Miller concluded. "We had a lot of leadership in practice, leadership we've been lacking a little bit at times. Amidst the unfortunate things we've had happen to us, I've seen a lot of positive signs this week."
Hopefully the Buccaneers, who are now 4-2 overall and 4-1 in the CCC, see more positive signs this week in preparation for a big game at Ansonia.
Heaven knows they've faced enough adversity.