| team photo | seniors | letterman | coaches | captains |
On the back of the team shirts the Covington football team has a simple, two-word motto - "BUY IN". It symbolizes a pact the team has made, a constant reminder of what it takes to accomplish goals together and a team.
"For the most part, the kids have bought in," said Covington coach Dave Miller. "They see it now. They understand the concept. Now, it's a matter of consistently putting forth the effort to get to where we want to go."
Consistency is something the Buccaneers have struggled with in the past - having great practices one day only to falter the next. The inconsistency translated to Friday nights as Covington looked unbeatable at times and then lethargic at times - even from one possession to the next.
"Consistency for us will be the key," Miller stressed. "It starts in practice, taking the things we need to work on and make a concerted effort to improve. Playing with intensity and emotion, flying around 100 miles-per-hour and giving all-out effort. We've done that some of the time, but have yet to do that all of the time."
So far, Miller has seen a significant improvement with consistency over the past year, starting in the weight room and in summer conditioning.
"Our weight room effort really picked up this year," he explained. "The proof is in the pudding because we are seeing results. This may be the strongest team we've had since I've been here from top to bottom."
From all indications, the effort put forth over the past seven months has carried over to the field throughout two-a-days. The team morale is higher than ever and the attitudes reflect the "BUY IN" pact the kids have made.
"Our team morale is really good right now," assured Miller. "We had a great summer and our first week of two-a-days has been the best I've had as a coach. Our attitudes and team chemistry is really solid."
Miller credits all 40 of his players, but stressed the impact his senior leaders have had in setting the tone for everyone else.
"We don't have a big senior class, only six, but that's a good group of kids," said Miller. "They have led by example and we have some talented kids in the three grades below them who have followed suite."
The senior class of Darren Clark, Sam Christian, Isaiah Winston, Sam Earick, Steven Blei and Brandon Powell return with a combined 15 varsity letters under their belts with the potential to graduate with a combined 21 varsity letters in football. For just six kids who didn't capture the imagination of the Covington faithful coming into high school four years ago, that's an amazing accomplishment.
"They (the seniors) have a chip on their shoulders," Miller explained. "I know all of the things that was said about them when they were in junior high and coming into high school and I think they have taken that to heart. They've worked their butts off and hopefully they can leave here after their senior year and say they proved a lot of people wrong."
The seniors have plenty of teammates who have their backs, including 12 other returning letterman; juniors Dylan Owens, Alex Baskerville, Kyler Deeter, Troy Cron, Trent Tobias, Gabe Mohler, Austin Angle and Brian Olson, along with sophomores Dalton Bordelon, A.J. Ouellette, Seth Clark and Bobby Alexander. Junior Cole Owens also returns after lettering as a freshman and missing last year with injury.
"There's some good athletes in that group (of letterman)," Miller said. "They've played a lot of football and now they are a pretty experienced group. The biggest difference between this year and last year with this group is in attitudes. They were young last year and probably didn't understand the big picture. I think they are getting it now."
There will be plenty of other players making names for themselves in a Buccaneer uniform in 2011, players who did see action on Friday nights, but spent most of the season learning at the junior varsity level.
"We have a lot of younger kids who are pushing the guys ahead of them," Miller said with a smile. "Now I love competition, because it only makes for better football players. There's really not one kid who doesn't compete and that's what we need."
And Covington will have to compete to reach the playoffs for the twelfth time in thirteen years as it moves up to Division V from Division VI by three boys. With a nine-game conference schedule and a dangerous season opener at New Bremen, the Buccs can't slip up or they could be on the outside looking in for the first time since 2004.
"You can't look ahead, just take it one game - one practice at a time," said Miller. "We know what's on our schedule, but we won't look ahead. We'll focus on the task at hand and if we are good enough to make the playoffs then we'll be there."
The schedule has the potential to be a tough one with road games at New Bremen, Miami East and Bethel and a home game against rival Bradford, who has playoff aspirations of its own.
But so far the Buccs are on the right track with the talent that's on the roster and the effort that has been put forth over the past seven months. There's still a lot of work that needs to be done before the season opens at New Bremen on August 28, but Miller likes the mindset of his team.
"Our mindset is where it needs to be right now," Miller said. "It's a matter of building on that each and every day in practice and throughout our scrimmages. If we can take what we've done in the weight room and over the summer and translate that onto the field, we'll be fine."
As a team, the Buccs have a pact. Hopefully it leads to another memorable season.