|Homecoming king and queen Isaiah Winston and Haley Reames.
|Kyler Deeter intercepts a Panther pass in the second half.
SEPTEMBER 23, 2011 - COVINGTON
Covington coach Dave Miller knew his football team would be in for a battle against Tri-County North on Friday - a team on a roll with three straight impressive wins under its belt and looking to spoil the Buccs' homecoming festivities.
But Covington was up to the challenge, jumping out to a 21-0 lead and methodically pounding away for a 35-7 victory.
"They (Tri-County North) concerned me," said Miller afterward. "They looked darn good against Bethel and I knew our kids would have to be prepared to play 48 minutes of hard-nosed, Buccaneer football."
And Miller's kids were up to the task.
"We've got a lot of kids who have heart," he continued. "They accepted the challenge and met it head on. We beat a nice football team tonight."
A fast start for Covington was critical, making a physical Panther team chase points on the scoreboard.
Covington scored on its first two possessions to take a 14-0 lead in the first quarter and then extended the lead to 21-0 on a 51-yard run by Isaiah Winston in the opening minutes of the second quarter.
"That was huge," agreed Miller in regards to getting out to a fast start. "We rotated Isaiah (Winston) and Trent (Tobias) at quarterback and it was pretty effective. I know Isaiah seems to like it."
That's because it allows Winston to use his talents in the open field from the halfback position.
And the senior made plays, setting up the first Covington touchdown with a 45-yard run.
He also had a huge kickoff return to open the second half after Tri-County North gained the momentum with a touchdown in the closing minutes of the first half.
"The kickoff return by Isaiah to start the second half was a big play, maybe the play of the game," Miller explained. "They scored there at the end of the half and had the momentum. But we got good field position to start the second half and was able to punch it in."
And it was Winston who put Covington up 28-7 with a one-yard run to cap the opening drive of the second half.
"Putting that one in on them at the beginning of the second half was huge," Miller continued. "Even after the kickoff return it took us a few plays to get there, but we were able to finish."
There was still a lot of time left on the clock, but the Panthers had a hard time against a swarming Buccaneer defense.
The lone drive Tri-County North put together came late in the second quarter, but two more scoring opportunities after muffed punt returns by Covington went by the wayside as the Buccaneer defense stiffened each time.
"They got some stuff on us there at the end of the half and we helped them out with a couple of fumbles, but our defense stepped up," Miller explained. "Other than the one drive, really, we controlled the game defensively."
With Covington's defense holding North in check, the offense put together one last masterful drive in the fourth quarter to put the game away.
Staring at its own 30, Covington used 6:30 of the clock to drive 12 plays to pay dirt on an eight-yard run by Alex Baskerville.
And Covington did it with the Panthers putting ten players within five yards of the line of scrimmage.
"We got behind our offensive line and let them take over," Miller described. "Sam (Christian), Cole (Owens), Brian (Olson), Steven (Blei) and Dalton (Bordelon), they got the job done."
A job that took a complete team effort in every phase of the game.
"Absolutely," agreed Miller. "Our focus was there. That was apparent in warmups before the game and it carried over."
Over to an impressive 35-7 win to improve to 5-0 overall and 4-0 in the CCC.
But there was a limited celebration as the team headed to the locker room as the focus shifts to a huge showdown with Miami East next Friday.