is what fullback Cory Ely and defensive back Kyler Deeter have been waiting for all summer long.
AUGUST 6, 2010 - COVINGTON
Last season's playoff game against Marion Local seems like a long time ago in one sense, yet it seems like yesterday - especially for the returning Buccaneers who have been fuming about the outcome of that game since last November.
"These kids are compin' at the bit," said Covington coach Dave Miller. "They did all the things in the off season that you want to see as a coach and now they can't wait for the season to start. It can't get here fast enough."
But the season is still three weeks away, which can seem like a lifetime for the kids due to all the work they've put in.
Which was obvious as the kids were pacing the sidelines as the clock ticked down to midnight - the official time for full contact by OHSAA rules.
"We had a really good warmup and you could sense the kids were ready to hit," Miller explained. "It's nice to see them hit something other than a bag."
And the hitting was the best it has been since Coach Miller started the Midnight Hit tradition four years ago.
"Oh yeah, this was the best (Midnight Hit) we've had," he said. "The competition from top to bottom is the best we've had since I've been here. Hopefully that carries over throughout two-a-days and into the season because it will only make us better."
The competition was intense as the starting offense had a hard time moving the ball against the scout defense, while the scout offense had some success against the starting defense in a live scrimmage situation.
"That just shows we have a lot of depth, at least it looks that way to this point," said Miller. "We have some younger kids who believe they belong. No position is secure. Some of the older kids who have started two or three years can look over their shoulder and see a younger kid challenging them for their starting spot. That's what makes us better as a whole."
It is still just the first day of live contact, but considering all the hard work these 47 kids have put in and how far they've come collectively as a group, Miller sees the potential for a special season.
"Oh, the potential is there (for a good season)," he said. "So far we've had really good practices with the exception of one day. If we can continue to improve with each and every practice, we have the potential to be pretty good."
Improvement depends on how well the Buccs stay focused on the task at hand, which falls into the laps of the leaders on the team.
So far, Miller sees several kids who have stepped into leadership roles.
"We have a lot of kids who are self starters on this team, kids who love to work hard," Miller said. "Our team chemistry is pretty good right now. It can be better, but it is pretty good. What you'd like to have is all 47 kids to step forward as leaders. By that I mean, lead by example - give maximum effort every day and every snap in practice. That's when you've really got something."
For the Buccs to get to where they want to go, all 47 kids will need to contribute greatly - especially considering the competition that awaits in Division 6.
And it's apparent the kids are on a mission to take on the challenge head on.
"I sense it," agreed Miller. "The kids are anxious to get going. It's taken a long time for the season to get here and I can sense the kids can't wait for August 27th."
Which is still three weeks away, not much time to perfect the little things Miller sees will take Covington to the elite level of Division 6 football.
"We've had a good off season and the Midnight Hit was a success, but we still have a long, long way to go," Miller said. "We can be much better than we were tonight. Much better."