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From the moment the Covington Buccaneers walked off the field after falling to Coldwater in the regional semi-final last season, the message for 2013 was set in motion.
"Max Out," emphasized Covington coach Dave Miller. "Max Out every minute of every day."
The message has been heard loud and clear as the players have bought in to Miller's program since that loss to a Coldwater team that went on to win a state championship.
"The kids understand the message, the expectation - especially this senior class," Miller continued. "I was laying awake after that game sort of sulking because I knew we were losing a really good group of seniors. It's always hard to lose kids who have meant a lot to your program and that group was pretty special. But as I'm laying there, it suddenly hit me as to what type of kids we have coming back. I woke my wife up and told her we'd be fine."
And Miller's feelings were justified the first time he met with the group of kids he'd have back in 2013 as seniors.
"I saw the look in their eyes and that reiterated everything I felt the night after the Coldwater game," Miller said. "These kids, and last year's seniors too, they maxed out in that game, the second half in particular. We just ran into a very good football team."
The kids have bought in to the "Max Out" message throughout the summer lifting and conditioning program as participation from top to bottom was the best since Miller took over as head football coach seven seasons ago.
"Overall, from top to bottom, this is the hardest we've worked over the summer," said Miller. "Accountability wise, I thought we were pretty good two years ago, but this year was the best since I've been here."
Much of the credit goes to a determined senior class, who set the tone throughout the summer with its leadership.
"Our leadership has been really good to this point," Miller said of the 14 seniors. "So far, this senior class has taken the mantle and the younger kids have followed their example."
With a strong summer behind them, the 48 kids in Covington uniforms had a productive, yet up-and-down performance throughout two-a-days and scrimmages against Milton and Eaton.
"The key for us now is improving every day," Miller explained. "We went through peaks and valleys during two-a-days and that's something we definitely need to improve on. We have to learn to be more consistent in practice. That's our biggest challenge."
Covington drops from Division 5 to the new Division 7, which includes some very good football teams - including Marion Local, the two-time defending state champions from Division 6. The Buccs also open the season with another traditional MAC power, St. Henry.
But Miller and the Buccs aren't concerned with who is on the other side of the field.
"We don't look at anything but our next game," he said. "Our philosophy is to control what you can control and that's how you prepare yourself each and every day and how you execute on Friday night. We always feel that if we max out in everything we do, give maximum effort each and every day, the scoreboard will take care of itself."
Should Covington "Max Out", it will be another exciting season of Buccaneer football in 2013.