|Freshman Cade Schmelzer delivers a pass during a seven-on-seven scrimmage at Mississinawa Valley on Thursday.
JULY 14, 2016 - UNION CITY
When you are in the early stages under a new head football coach - learning a new offense and defense - any time you have an opportunity to test yourself against competition from other teams, you jump at the chance.
That's what the Covington Buccaneers did on Thursday as they traveled to Mississinawa Valley High School to take part in a four-team seven-on-seven scrimmage against the likes of Bradford, Tri-Village and the host Blackhawks of Mississinawa Valley - all fellow Cross County Conference programs.
And when the dust settled on a sticky, humid evening, the Covington Buccaneers walked off the field without allowing a single touchdown to any of their three opponents.
"That's the first seven-on-seven scrimmage I've ever been a part of where a defense didn't allow a single touchdown," said Covington coach Ty Cates. "Now, there were a couple of times where we were beat, but they (the opponent) weren't able to capitalize. Still, we didn't give up a touchdown, and to me that's very encouraging. I'm so proud of our kids."
What made it even more impressive is the fact that their were no lineman involved and a pass rush was non existent.
"In a seven-on-seven there are no lineman out there, so you really don't know how much time a quarterback has to look over his options," Cates explained. "But our kids stayed in coverage for a long time and were able to make plays on the ball. That's what's most encouraging to us as a coaching staff."
The reason for Covington's success at the defensive end was the physicality at the line of scrimmage and how fast the defense flew to the football.
"We played physical and fast," praised Cates of his defense. "I know it's a seven-on-seven, but it's still football. Playing physical and fast is the way I was taught and that's the only way I know how to teach it. Our kids have bought into that and they played that way."
Covington also had a good day offensively, executing a new offense from what they've been accustom too since they were in pee wee football.
"Honestly, I never thought the kids would pick up the offense this fast," Cates said. "We still have to clean up some of our routes and we have a long way to go, but the kids are getting better every day."
What impressed Cates most is how his quarterbacks are progressing from the triple-option to a spread offense.
"I can't say enough about Nathan Blei, Ty Freeman and Cade Schmelzer - they are learning and entirely new offense and executing it much better than what I could have imagined," praised Cates. "They are making good decisions with the football - making the right reads and delivering the ball where it needs to be."
And the trio has plenty of weapons to throw too.
"So far this summer we have had a lot of weapons touch the football," continued Cates. "Zane (Barnes), Branden (Robinson), Zach (Parrett) and Tristin (Sowers) are four talented receivers, while Ethan (Herron), Lance (Miller), Deron (White) and Joey (Schmelzer) are four backs who can catch the football out of the backfield. We also have some young kids who make plays like Parker (Dysinger), Andrew (Cates) and Brayden (Wiggins)."
Freshman Brayden Wiggins had two plays that were worthy of "Top Ten" plays on ESPN. The first was a catch down the right sideline where he faked out two defenders to reach the end zone and the second was an over-the-shoulder catch in the back of the end zone where tapped both feet in bounds while laying out for a ball that looked to be well overthrown.
But as good as the evening went for Covington on both sides of the ball, there is the reality of finding out what you have when the pads go on.
"I want our kids to be excited about what we've accomplished so far, but I want them to also understand that we haven't played anybody in full pads yet," stated Cates. "Everything we've done so far is to prepare us for when we go to full pads. That's when we'll find out what we have."
Until then the Buccaneers look forward to testing themselves in other seven-on-seven scrimmage at Northmont on Saturday against the likes of Bethel, Vandalia-Butler, Beavercreek and Northmont.