|Brock Murphy and Josh Earick force a Tiger fumble.
AUGUST 22, 2014 - COVINGTON
Who's going to lead?
Who's going to be the guy, or better yet, "the guys" who will emerge as vocal and emotional leaders of the team - one who ignites a spark from the opening snap?
Leadership, or the lack thereof, is the one glaring weakness the Covington Buccaneers showed in three quarters of action against Versailles on Friday in what was the final scrimmage of the summer.
Who's going to lead?... is also the question the Buccaneers must answer before kicking off the 2014 season at home against St. Henry next Friday in front of a huge crowd that will be on hand to honor the tradition of Covington athletics for Hall of Fame Night.
"No emotion," said Dave Miller in his assessment of his team's performance as he walked off the field. "We were way too reactive."
And it showed as the Buccaneers lacked enthusiasm despite shutting Versailles down on its opening possession of the game thanks to a huge sack by junior Ian Fries. It was a huge play, but you wouldn't know it by the lack of emotion displayed afterward.
It did force the Tigers to punt the ball away, but Covington didn't do much with it as a 15-yard penalty negated what would have been third-and-short situation for the Buccs.
The Buccaneers punted the ball away to Versailles and the defense once again came through as seniors Josh Earick and Brock Murphy combined to force Kyle Derringer, the Tiger ballcarrier, to fumble, which was recovered by junior defensive back Coleman Ryan.
But once again, after gaining a first down, the Buccaneers shot themselves in the foot with a penalty and turned the ball over back to Versailles on a failed fourth-and-one attempt at the Tiger 20.
From there, Versailles went 80 yards in eight plays and scored on a 5-yard pass to take a 7-0 lead in the waining moments of the opening quarter.
Covington took the ensuing possession at it own 20 and moved the ball methodically to the Versailles 28 before a Buccaneer lineman jumped the snap count to stall the drive and force a punt that was downed inside the one by a hustling Coleman Ryan.
Versailles was then able to give itself some punting room on three short runs, giving the ball back to the Buccs via punt at the Tiger 38 with little time left in the half.
And Covington attempted a last second pass that was picked off by Versailles to end the first two quarters of the three quarter scrimmage.
After an intermission, Covington took over the ball at its own 20 and was only able to move the ball five yards in three plays, forcing a punt back to Versailles that was fielded at the Tiger 36.
On the first play from scrimmage on the ensuing possession, the Covington defense jumped off sides to set the Tiger drive in motion.
And the Tigers took advantage as junior halfback Collin Peters ran four of the five plays in the drive and capped the effort with a 15-yard touchdown run to push the lead to 13-0 after the point-after attempt was wide left with 6:19 left in the scrimmage.
Covington then appeared to be in the midst of putting together a nice, time-consuming drive, but Tiger senior Josh Kramer stuffed a Buccaneer ball carrier in the backfield after a poor pitch on third-and-short to force a punt, virtually ending the varsity portion of the scrimmage.
In the end, the Buccs saw four drives stall due to penalties from a lack of focus. For a young team that "needs" to put together time consuming drives, it wasn't the type of performance Covington was looking for in its dress rehearsal for the 2014 season.
The 13-0 score is meaningless because it is a scrimmage where coaches are trying different things to get a gage on how the kids react to certain situations. But what stood out most for Covington was it's lack of leadership when things went good and bad.
Which makes one question going into next week's huge season opener against St. Henry... "Who's going to lead?"