|Sophomore Shane Straw scores a touchdown in junior varsity action against Milton.
AUGUST 13, 2013 - WEST MILTON
On the surface, Covington's first full contact scrimmage against Milton-Union looks impressive considering the Buccaneer varsity unit scored on each of it's three ten-play series and held the Bulldogs scoreless in their three possessions.
But Buccaneer coach Dave Miller had mixed feelings of his team's performance - even against a quality Milton team that is coming off a regional final appearance in which is fell gallantly to last year's Division 4 state champions, Clinton-Massie.
"There are definitely things we need to work on," said Miller. "I didn't like the fact that we came out a little flat, started slow. Our passion and enthusiasm needs to get much better. We also weren't as physical as I'd like us to be."
The scrimmage started with special teams and Milton managed to block one of Covington's extra point attempts with a push right up the middle.
The evening then proceeded with both varsity teams receiving three ten-play possessions and Covington opened with a long touchdown run by sophomore quarterback Jared Williams on the fifth play. The Buccs then moved the ball deep into Milton territory on the final five plays, but came up twenty yards short of the end zone thanks to a penalty that negated a long run by A.J. Ouellette.
Milton followed by breaking big runs on the Buccaneer defense on its first two plays, moving the ball to the Covington 30.
But that would be as far as the Bulldogs would get as Justin Williams sparked Covington with a big hit on the third play and seven plays followed without any yardage by Milton.
"We were without four of our starting defensive lineman, so our depth was tested," Miller explained. "We competed pretty well, but we made some mistakes with our assignments. The good thing about that is those are things we can correct."
Covington's second ten-play series was Dave Miller football through and through - clock-eating, ground-and-pound chunks of yardage on each play. It took nine plays to reach pay dirt on a three-yard Jared Williams run, but the drive was the type of execution that the Buccs will need against solid defensive teams.
"I felt we started to control the line of scrimmage pretty well," said Miller. "Jared (Williams) did a nice job of reading the option and taking what the defense gave us. We moved the ball pretty well."
After holding Milton once again on its second possession, Covington scored once again on another clock-chewing drive - this time on a short run by senior halfback Chance Setters.
The Buccs then rotated players in and out of the defensive lineup in Milton's final varsity possession and stopped the Bulldogs inside the twenty to conclude the varsity scrimmage.
"The positives are we moved the ball and had some defensive stops when we needed them," Miller explained. "The biggest negative was our lack of enthusiasm. I'm disappointed in our sideline not communicating. That's an issue we have to resolve."
A lack of enthusiasm from this group is a head scratcher due to what's at stake each and every time out, even in the Buccs' three scrimmages - especially when those teams are outstanding programs like Milton-Union, Eaton and Versailles - all with rich traditions.
How can you not get up to play those teams?
"I'm asking the same question, especially with this group of seniors," said Miller. "Don't get me wrong, we didn't play bad by any means, but we aren't practicing or playing with the sense of urgency we need if we want to max out in our potential. Sure, we have a lot of younger kids mixed in there, but that's not an excuse. We have two weeks of practice and two more scrimmages to figure it out."
The Buccs better figure it out because a very talented and physical Eaton team is up next on Friday.