|Trent Tobias runs for a first down against Coldwater.
NOVEMBER 4, 1011 - COVINGTON
Coldwater came to Covington for a regional quarterfinal matchup with an impressive playoff resume - two state championships and four runner-up trophies since 1998.
And after a 31-7 victory over the Buccaneers, Coldwater appears well on its way to another long playoff run.
"They (Coldwater) are a very good football team and it wouldn't surprise me one bit to see them go all the way," praised Covington coach Dave Miller of the Cavaliers. "I just wish we could have given a better showing than we did tonight."
Miller was concerned from the time his team warmed up for the game.
"I don't know what it is, but we looked sluggish during warmups," he said. "We weren't crisp and had trouble holding onto the football. I don't know if we were nervous, intimidated by the fact that we were playing Coldwater or what. I do know we are a better football team than we showed tonight."
Whether it was a case of nerves or intimidation, the sluggishness carried over to the game as Covington fumbled on its own 15 on the first possession after a first down and two straight penalties.
Coldwater took advantage on a one-yard touchdown run by Jordan Chapin, who recovered his own fumble in the end zone.
"That's something we talked about, protect the football," Miller said. "You can't give a team like that extra offensive possessions, especially down there (inside the 20)."
Covington was forced to punt on its next possession, but the defense held as the first quarter came to a close.
The Buccs then put together an impressive drive, eating six minutes off the clock and tying the score on a two-yard run by Trent Tobias.
"I kind of felt we weathered the storm," said Miller. "I could see us starting to get into the flow of the game and I felt we were getting over whatever nerves we may have had earlier."
Coldwater responded with a huge pass play on it next possession to set itself up inside the Buccaneer twenty.
But the Buccs held and forced the Cavaliers to settle for a 24-yard field goal by Troy Otten to make the score 10-7 in favor of the visitors.
"Their quarterback is darn good and we knew they'd get some plays on us," said Miller of Coldwater's Austin Bruns. "But the key for us was to control the clock and limit their opportunities."
And the strategy was working as Covington methodically moved the ball into Cavalier territory once again.
But a fourth down pass attempt failed, giving the Cavaliers the ball back with under 2:00 left in the first half.
"In hindsight, maybe I should have kept it on the ground," Miller said, second guessing himself.
Actually, the play call was perfect as a Buccaneer receiver was wide open down the right side of the field. But the play was designed to go to the left side, which is where the ball was delivered.
Plus, Covington had just failed to gain the first down on third-and-two the play before.
Still, Coldwater used its time wisely as quarterback Austin Bruns drove his team down the field with clock killing passes on the sideline and then handed the ball to Drew Klosterman for a one-yard touchdown to make the score 17-7 at the half.
"That fourth down play is going to haunt me," said Miller, being his own worst critic. "If I keep it on the ground there maybe we score and go up 14-10 at the half. Even if we don't score, maybe we can eat enough clock and we're only down 10-7 at the half."
Coach can second guess himself all he wants, but another half of football was yet to be played and the game was decided in the trenches.
And it was Coldwater who began taking control at the line of scrimmage.
First, the Buccs recovered and onside kick to start the second half and Coldwater stuffed Covington on three straight running plays to force a punt.
The Cavaliers then held off the Buccaneer defensive line, giving Bruns all the time he needed to find open receivers down the field.
Bruns then surprised Covington with a quarterback keeper that went 33 yards for the score and a 24-7 lead.
"That was the first time all year I saw our defensive line get pushed off the ball," Miller said. "All the sudden we were standing up instead of firing off the ball low and hard. They got under us and put a hat on a hat and drove us back."
The score appeared to take the wind out of Covington as the offense couldn't get anything going on its next possession, giving Bruns and the Coldwater offense the ball near midfield.
But this time it was the Cavalier running game that did the damage as Drew Klosterman became the workhorse and powered his way for chunks of yardage. Bruns got the glory in the end with a three-yard run to end matters, 31-7.
"We knew coming in that we needed to get pressure on their quarterback and we didn't do that," Miller said. "We also knew we had to protect the football and control the clock and we didn't do that either."
Still, in spite of what people outside of the locker room may think, this Buccaneer team made huge strides in 2011 as every player in a Covington uniform bought in from day one.
"This is a great group of kids," said Miller with a crack in his voice. "This was one of the most enjoyable years I've ever had coaching football. We've really had a fun year with these kids."
And Miller attributes that to the leadership of his six seniors; Darren Clark, Sam Christian, Isaiah Winston, Brandon Powell, Steven Blei and Sam Earick.
"This senior class is special," he continued. "They are just really great kids. The leadership they've provided is something we'll miss greatly. Hopefully the younger kids learned from those seniors on what it takes to be a leader and some of them emerge as leaders next year."
Because the Buccs have the potential to be even better next year.
And hopefully another crack at a great Coldwater team awaits.