|Branden Robinson runs after making a catch.
|Jared Williams finds running room up the middle.
AUGUST 14, 2015 - COVINGTON
Covington played host to Eaton on Friday in the second of three scrimmages before the season opener two weeks from now at St. Henry.
And the Buccaneers were looking for significant improvement over Monday's outing at Milton Union in which Covington put the ball on the ground four times in 20 offensive plays.
"We weren't happy with the way we played at Milton, but I thought we showed signs of being the old Buccs tonight," said Covington coach Dave Miller. "Our physicality is what stood out the most."
The format of the scrimmage consisted of a series of special teams situations before both varsity units received two sets of ten offensive plays. The junior varsity squads received 12 offensive plays each and then the varsity teams took the field for a full half of game situation football.
And Covington started the scrimmage strong as it put together a methodical drive in its first ten plays, ultimately finishing the series at the Eaton eight. Even though the drive didn't conclude in the end zone, it was successful as Covington converted a fourth-and-one during the drive and it would have had a fresh set of downs after ten plays - if it were a down-and-distance situation.
"That was Buccaneer football," said Miller of the first drive. "We moved the ball and were getting ready to score. That's what we do."
Eaton drove into Covington territory in its first set of ten plays, but the Buccaneers held the Eagles outside of the 30.
"Their running back gave us fits last year and outside of a couple of plays early on, we pretty much shut him down," said Miller. "He's a shifty runner who can make you look bad if you aren't sound in your fundamentals. We made some fundamental adjustments and took that away."
In Covington's second ten-play series, it once again moved the ball deep into Eaton territory as junior quarterback Nathan Blei connected with junior Branden Robinson on a 30-yard pass to the six on the fifth play of the series.
"We were three-for-three in our passing game and that's a positive," Miller said.
Unfortunately, Covington turned the ball over via fumble on the very next play and had to start again from its own thirty with four plays left. The Buccaneers did, however, manage to move the ball back into Eaton territory in the final four plays of their ten-play possession.
"That's what we can't do," said Miller in regards to the fumble. "We're at the six, ready to punch it in and put the ball on the ground. That's the last thing we need in that situation."
Eaton began its second ten-play series at its own thirty and had difficulty finding any success against the Buccaneer defense. The series ended near midfield.
After the junior varsity teams battled for 24 plays, the varsity units returned to the field for one half of football.
Eaton received the ball first and connected on an eight-yard pass on its first play. But Covington was able to hold on two straight plays to force an Eagle punt.
The Buccaneers' first possession of down-and-distance was unsuccessful as well as a penalty put Covington behind the chains and ultimately forced a punt.
"We had a misread there and then the penalty that put us behind the chains," Miller explained. "Those are mistakes we need to correct over the next week."
After shutting Eaton down on the ensuing possession on a fourth down sack by Brandon Magee, Covington moved the ball methodically down the field and scored on a twelve-yard run by Ethan Herron off of a huge hole opened by Carl Lankford.
"Brandon Magee wreaks havoc," Miller said. "He's a strong kid who goes one hundred miles-per-hour."
Covington once again held Eaton to a three-and-out and senior Logan Fields blocked the Eagle punt. Fellow senior Zach Barnes recovered the ball in the end zone for the score.
The Buccaneer defense forced Eaton to punt on its next possession and the offense immediately went to work with a 30-yard run by Ethan Herron. Six plays later junior fullback Lance Miller powered his way in from the four.
"I'm pleased with the way our defense has been coming along," praised Miller. "There's still some technique issues we need to address because we missed some tackles we should be making. But I liked the way we moved around and swarmed to the football."
The Eagles got something rolling with two quick throws for a first down and followed with a 15-yard run up the middle for another. But Buccaneer senior defensive back Coleman Ryan killed the momentum by forcing a fumble as Covington took over at its own 46.
On the very first play after the turnover, Covington's Ethan Herron broke loose from 51 yards away, but the score was nullified due to a holding penalty.
The Buccaneers were eventually forced to punt the ball back to Eaton, but the defense did its job once again with a three-and-out.
With just 1:19 left on the clock, Covington ran two plays and called it a day.
"I like where we stand at this point," Miller said. "Our team chemistry is really good right now and we need to continue to build on that. Outside of a few mistakes, we played pretty well."
The Buccaneers look to take yet another step forward next Friday as they travel to Versailles in the annual Jamboree.