Bobby Alexander and the eighth grade had a big day against Versailles.
Matt Carder and the seventh graders put on an offensive show in their scrimmage.
August 22, 2009 - VERSAILLES
The Covington Buccaneers traveled to Versailles for the final dress rehearsal for the 2009 season in a scrimmage between the junior high, junior varsity and finally the varsity squads.
The varsity scrimmage was an entire four quarters with Versailles coming out on top 20-0 when all was said and done.
"We got beat on the scoreboard, but we played much better than we did in the other two scrimmages," said Covington coach Dave Miller. "That's what you want to see is improvement."
The improvement Miller was referring too came particularly on the defensive side of the ball as the Buccaneer defensive front put constant pressure on the quarterback.
"We disrupted them pretty well with our defensive front," Miller said. There's still some things we need to work on there, but overall I felt our effort and intensity was pretty good on the defensive line."
And except for a couple of mistakes in coverage that Versailles capitalized for touchdowns, the Buccaneer secondary showed significant improvement as well.
"We had two blown coverages in the secondary that resulted in touchdowns and those are things we can correct in practice this week," Miller explained. "The third touchdown was just a great play by their quarterback. Garrett (Clark) had as good of coverage as you can get down the sideline, but their quarterback put the ball only where their guy could catch it. That happens in football and you have to live with things like that."
Covington's secondary picked off three Versailles passes, all by senior Taylor Reames.
"Taylor had a good game in the secondary, as did Kyler Deeter," Miller said. "Deeter (who is a freshman) just keeps getting better and better every day."
And playing a team like Versailles who applies the spread offense only helps Covington heading into the upcoming season.
"That's why our scrimmages are good for us," said Miller in regards to the competition. "Milton, Eaton and Versailles all are solid programs who give us a different look."
Offensively, the Buccs also showed improvement, but still failed to move the ball on a consistent basis.
"Offensively, we're not hitting on all cylinders," said Miller. "We moved the ball at time, but our execution wasn't there on a consistent basis."
Being a timing offense Covington runs, not having quarterback Jake Bitner, halfback Tyler Noffsinger, along with multiple threat Cory Ely available makes a difference.
But Miller and the Buccs won't use that as an excuse.
"Hopefully we can get those guys healthy (before the opener next week), but you have to overcome adversity and execute with the guys you have," he stated.
And it starts with the offensive line, which was inconsistent in opening up running lanes.
"We'll look at the film, but I felt the line improved since last week," said Miller. "We moved some people off the ball, but not consistently. There were times we looked good."
Covington had three golden scoring opportunities it didn't capitalize on - two wide open receivers under thrown down the field and a long run by Kyle Deeter called back due to a penalty.
"Those are opportunities you need to take advantage of because you may not get those very often," emphasized Miller. "The two we missed down the field were sure touchdowns and the penalty on the run by Deeter moved us out of scoring position. Those are mistakes you can't make."
The junior varsity scrimmage went two quarters of play with Versailles winning 6-0. The lone score came on a 30-yard touchdown pass by the Tigers.
But Miller was pleased with how well his unit played.
"They had something like 40 freshman and sophomores and we played with 15 kids who were mostly freshman," Miller explained. "We gave up the one big play, but we still had pretty good coverage on that. I was really pleased with the younger kids."
The improvement Covington showed against a quality team like Versailles at both the varsity and junior varsity level will only help the Buccs as they prepare this week for the opener against New Bremen.
For the junior high team, the eighth graders showcased the potential of an impressive team as it controlled the line of scrimmage and ran the ball very effectively against the host Tigers.
Covington scored three touchdowns and had a chance at a fourth score, but a misguided pass inside the ten was intercepted by Versailles.
Still, the execution at the line of scrimmage by the Buccaneer offensive line and the intensity in which the back ran the ball pleased junior high coach Lee Donnan.
"I'm proud of how you guys took it to them," said Donnan to his kids afterward. "That was impressive."
Defensively, the eighth graders had difficulty with the spread offense the Tigers ran and gave up a couple of scores via the passing game. But as the scrimmage progressed the kids adjusted quickly and managed to defend the pass very well.
"For a bunch of young kids to play the way you did against the spread (offense) without practicing it was awesome," Donnan praised his kids. "I was worried coming in here that their style of offense would give us problems because we've never seen it before, but you kids did a great job."
As good as the eight grade played, the seventh grade group may have stole the show as it put up five touchdowns on the board against the Tigers, while Versailles scored twice.
Granted, the Covington kids already have playing experience through pee wee football and the Versailles kids were strapped it up for the first time. But the emotion and intensity the Buccaneers played with stood out the most.
"I'm proud of how well the seventh grade played," Donnan said to the kids. "You guys went out there and went after them. Early on I could tell you were a little apprehensive, but once you got rolling you just kept going. That's the way you play this game, all out, all the time."
That's the way you play the game at all levels.