|Alex Baskerville and the Buccaneer backs ran hard in the final scrimmage at Versailles.
AUGUST 19, 2011 - VERSAILLES
Covington coach Dave Miller came away from the final dress rehearsal for the 2011 season pleased with the performance of his Buccaneer football team - and it wasn't because of the 35-12 score on the scoreboard. He was most pleased with the effort of his kids.
"I've never been big on the scores in a scrimmage because you approach a scrimmage game-plan wise differently than a game," said Miller. "What I wanted to see was how well our guys compete, the effort they give on every play. Overall, I was very pleased with our effort."
And the effort was consistent, something Miller has been wanting to see since the first day of two-a-days.
"Our effort was great all the way around and for the most part it was consistent," he continued. "Of course we'll get a better assessment when we watch the film, but I didn't see anyone taking plays off."
Covington opened the varsity scrimmage by moving the ball methodically down the field, chewing up chunks of yardage and eating up the clock before a one-yard run by quarterback Isaiah Winston.
"Our offensive line did a nice job of coming off the ball low and hard," Miller explained. "It's been something we've been working on since day one and the kids are getting better. Our feet are faster than what we saw in the Milton scrimmage a couple of weeks ago, so we are making progress. We still have a ways to go."
The defense set the tone on Versailles' first offensive play of the night as Dylan Owens read the screen play to perfection and forced a fumble that was recovered by Justin Williams. This led to a field goal and a 10-0 Covington lead.
The Buccs then recorded a safety after Troy Cron tapped down a Buccaneer punt at the Tiger one and then Steven Blei connected on a field goal to push the lead to 15-0.
But Versailles capped the first half on a 70-yard touchdown strike to close the gap to 15-6 at the break.
"Our secondary played very well except for a couple of blown coverages," Miller explained. "The first touchdown wasn't on our defensive backs. We didn't get the pressure we needed up front and gave them too much time to throw the ball. Those are some things we need to work on."
The fact that Versailles scored so quickly didn't come as a surprise to Miller as he has seen the Tigers break off points quickly in bunches in the past.
"They can score at any time on the field and we know that," Miller praised of the Tigers. "That's a darn good football team with a great tradition. We have all of the respect in the world for them and how well they are coached. Versailles is Versailles and they'll be right there with anybody."
Which is why Miller was pleased with how his kids responded in the early moments of the second half.
Covington increased its lead on another well executed drive that was capped by another touchdown run by Isaiah Winston, who broke several tackles to reach pay dirt.
"Our backs ran hard," Miller said. "They're a blue collar group, not the most flashy kids, but they run hard."
Running hard sometimes leads to fumbles when backs are driving for extra yards without putting two arms around the football. This was the case on several occasions, even though the Buccs managed to recover the majority of the fumbles.
"I'm not happy with the fumbles," Miller continued. "Granted, we managed to recover our own fumbles for the most part, but putting the ball on the ground are game-changing mistakes. We'll definitely address that."
Even with the fumbles the Buccs we able to move the chains on a consistent basis as Isaiah Winston engineered one final drive midway through the fourth quarter. The effort was capped by a three-yard run by A.J. Ouellette for a 35-6 lead.
"Isaiah did a nice job executing the offense," Miller praised. "He's come a long way in the past three years."
Versailles put together a nice drive on the ensuing possession, but the Buccs shut down the threat by knocking down a fourth-down pass attempt deep in Covington territory.
But the ball went right back to Versailles on a Buccaneer fumble, a mistake that lit a fire under Miller.
"We were trying to run out the clock and we gave them new life (with the fumble)," said Miller with displeasure in his voice. "At that point you want to take the life right out of them. It's a mistake we can learn from because they went right down the field and scored."
Which was the second scoring connection between the Campbell brothers on a pass down the middle of the field from thirty yards out.
"We fumbled and then had a blown coverage on the touchdown," Miller explained. "You have to keep playing until there's no time on the clock and that's another thing we'll address."
Which Miller touched on in his post-game speech to the kids.
"Sure, we played well, but there are a lot of things we need to work on," he said. "Anybody who thinks we have arrived is greatly mistaken because we haven't won anything yet. We are 0-0, the same as everybody else."
Still, Miller likes where his team is at this point compared to his previous four seasons as Buccaneer head coach.
"So far we're ahead of where we've been at this point in the time I've been here," said Miller. "Our attitudes are where we need them to be and our effort is improving. Can we get better? Yes. Will we get better? I sure hope so, because we have a long way to go to become the team we think we can be."
The process of becoming that team begins next week in the season opener at New Bremen.