|AJ Ouellette breaks loose in the open field during a scrimmage at Milton.
AUGUST 9, 2011 - WEST MILTON
When two teams scrimmage a team in another color jersey for the first time, it's an opportunity to learn about themselves - how far they've come over the off-season program and how far they need to go before the season opener.
For the Covington Buccaneers, who traveled to Milton-Union for their first scrimmage, they found out that there is potential for a darn good football team - with a strong emphasis on "potential".
"We can be pretty good," said Covington coach Dave Miller after the scrimmage. "We're definitely not there yet, but we're making strides."
At times the Buccs looked very impressive on both sides of the ball, playing fast and physical. But there were other times where mistakes were made, mistakes that need to be addressed.
"Overall, our effort was good and we did look good at times," Miller explained. "Then at times I was frustrated with missed tackles where we didn't wrap up like we should. They (Milton) got us a couple of times because we didn't finish. We'll work on that."
Twice Milton runners broke loose in the secondary after breaking tackles behind the line of scrimmage. Both runs were preventable as Buccaneer defenders were in position to make the plays.
"We pursued to the ball very well," Miller continued. "I like the way we got after it. We just have to do a better job of finishing the plays, which we'll work on."
Another thing Miller and the Buccs must work on is showing up ready to play the moment they step off the bus.
"I was a little concerned during warm-ups because we looked lethargic," Miller described. "We moved too slow and didn't have the emotion and intensity when we warmed up. We need to work on that."
Once the hitting started the Buccs picked their game up a notch.
"When the hitting started, we looked like a different team," he continued. "It was good to see the kids flying around out there, but we need to do that the moment we step on the field, regardless of whether we are warming up or playing the game. You use the warm-up to get mentally prepared for the game."
The performance wasn't all negative by any means, as Miller saw many more positives than negatives throughout the scrimmage.
First, the offensive and defensive lines did a nice job at the point of attack.
"I thought we came off the ball pretty well," praised Miller. "We've been working on that. We can still come off the ball a little lower, but overall I was pleased with the kids up front."
Second, the Buccs moved the ball well against a stingy Milton defense. Three times Covington broke long runs and concluded the varsity scrimmage with a ten-play drive that reached the end zone.
"Neither Brett (Pearce) nor I care about the score in a scrimmage, so we had the play stopped when someone broke free into the open," said Miller. "They had some and we had some (long runs), but we were looking at how well we moved the ball and I felt we moved the ball pretty well."
Starting quarterback Isaiah Winston was a perfect 3-for-3 in the passing game, connecting with Sam Earick, AJ Ouellette and Troy Cron. He also had a nice run through the heart of the Bulldog defense.
Trent Tobias and AJ Ouellete then combined to lead Covington to a score on a ten-play drive to conclude the varsity scrimmage.
"Trent and AJ executed a very nice drive there at the end," Miller said. "We had three quarterbacks execute the offense pretty darn well and I don't think I could say that at any time since I've been here."
Another positive for the Buccs was it came away without any injuries. That's a huge plus considering the bad luck Covington has had on the injury front the past few years.
"We're due," Miller agreed. "We have a couple of kids who sat out for precautionary reasons and a couple who will be out a while, but overall we're pretty healthy right now."
The Buccs are also more educated about where they stand and what they need to work on before another stiff test on Friday against Eaton.
"The first thing we need to do is come in tomorrow and take another step forward, not backwards," challenged Miller. "Consistency is the key. Inconsistency from one day to the next has hurt us in the past and we need to find a way to take a step forward every day we step out on the practice field. We need to come in tomorrow and take what we've learned today and improve on it. Tomorrow is a very important day for us and hopefully the kids are up to the challenge."
They better be - if they want to find the consistency needed to be a darn good football team.