Football - The Early Era
Football, as was basketball, was introduced here by James Bartmess, a graduate of 1904. Although the odds against its survival were many, the sport was continued for six years and disbanded on October 28, 1910.
October 28, 1910, in a game between Covington and Troy, Tom Ramsey was seriously injured and that evening his father, Z.L. Ramsey, a member of the school board at the time, called a special meeting of the board which resulted in the abandonment of the sport in Covington High School. However, some of the members of the team organized independently and continued football in Covington, although not a school function.
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The Modern Era...
The present day football movement was started in 1946 and can be credited to no one individual. The question of why Covington didn't play football arose quite frequently until Prof. J.L. Baker called a meeting of some of the more enthusiastic sportman of the village to determine if and how the sport could be promoted. This group, Keith Langston, Merrit Burk, Russel Johnson, Howard Buchanan, Kermit Stade, Burr Simpson, Dr. Wehr and Prof. Baker, met in Burk's Drug Store in August 1946. Deciding to "push" the sport, an open meeting of the public was called and R.C. O'Donnell was made chairman of a committee designated to solicit funds to outfit the team.
On the opening day of school in 1946, an announcement was made for all interested boys desiring to play football to meet with Burr Simpson, appointed as head football coach. His assistants were Louis Apwisch, backfield coach and Charles Watson, line coach. The first practice was held across the street from the high school building (currently Covington Middle School), the players clad in track shorts. These boys had the spirit and determination and that was about all. Some had never before witnessed a football game, so the Athletic Association sponsored their travel, as a group and via school bus, to football games of neighboring schools. After sufficient equipment was obtained, this team held several practice games and in 1947 played their first regular season schedule.
Early in 1947, the Board of Education issued enough bonds to secure $5,000, and as a gift, presented them with an additional five acres. The 10-acre site was then called Smith Field. The bonds have since been retired, being paid off at the rate of $1,000 per year.
In the meantime, a Boosters Club, composed of enthusiastic sportsmen, was organized with Russell Johnson as president. This organization raffled off an automobile and along with several other projects, secured enough money to construct and equip the football field and a quarter-mile track.
On Friday, September 12, 1947, the Covington Buccaneers traveled to Maria Stein St. John, for the first football game of the modern era and dropped a 12-0 decision, and a week later journeyed to Eaton and lost again by the same 12-0 score.
The starting line-up for the 1947 Buccaneers was: Jack Farling, left end; Keith Langston, left tackle; Bill Trembly, left guard; Tom Finfrock, center; George Brandt, right guard; Frank Hemm, right tackle; Charles Phillis, right end; Dean Finfrock, left halfback; Junior Deal, quarterback; Don Via, fullback; and David Beard, right halfback.
Friday, September 26, 1947, was designated as "Booster's Night". In the semi-darkness at Smith Field, over 1,500 eager fans heard the words, "We have honored our country with the playing of the National Anthem...now we honor the Boosters by turning on the lights. Let there be light." R.K. Johnston, Booster president, then presented the athletic facility and Kermit Stade accepted of behalf of the school board. Covington fans were only minutes away from witnessing the rebirth of a sport that had been dormant in Covington for 37 years.
Covington hosted the Piqua Catholic Cavaliers in this first game on the friendly confines of Smith Field, and midway through the first quarter, David Beard went 30 yards around right end for the first touchdown. Dick Supinger booted the extra point as Covington put their first seven points on the scoreboard. Late in the third period, Beard and Supinger duplicated the feat in the same manner and the Buccaneers had their first triumph, a 14-0 victory that started a tradition that exists today.
One tragic incident darkened Covington football over the years. Dave Murray, a stellar performer, suffered a head injury in a practice session and passed away on September 5, 1059. Medical research determined previous injury, not directly related to football. However, the Boosters Club provided a lasting tribute to Dave Murray at the west end of Smith Field, with a new flag pole embedded in a memorial base.
Throughout the years, many exciting games have been played, and many outstanding teams have left legacies for those to follow.
The success the Buccaneers have had on the field is proven by the league titles they have captured. The titles include 2 Tri-County titles, 4 Little Buckeye titles, 3 Mad River Valley titles, 4 Three Rivers titles, 1 Southwest Rivers titles, and 10 Cross County Conference titles.
Two times Buccaneer teams were named State Champions; 1960 and 1973. The Buccs also have a state runner-up trophy thanks to the 1979 team.
As time passes and more generations pass through Covington schools, memories are made and not forgotten. Folks who have witnessed the greatness of the 1960, 1973 and 1979 teams pass along their memories to the younger generations, keeping the memories alive.
There is a bond shared by families and the community when it comes to Covington football. Most of the kids who play today have at least a parent, grandparent or uncle who played on the same field. Covington football has become a family tradition over the years.
Because of the memories and traditions, the kids of today know the players of the past. The names of the people who have made Buccaneer football what it is today. Some of the players have gone on to play at the next level and one, Tim Vogler, made it to the NFL.
There have also been some great coaches who have helped mold the Covington traditions. Blair Irvin, who coached the high powered 1960 team to a perfect 10-0 record and a State Championship. Larrie Tisdale, who may have been the greatest coach in Buccaneer history, coached two unbeaten teams, 1968 and 1973. Coach Tisdale also coached the 1979 State Runner-ups and the 1980 state playoff team. Charlie Burgbacher coached the 1985 team to a state playoff and more recently, Bob Riley coached the 1996 team to a 10-0 regular season and a playoff berth.
Coach Ted Peacock, who resigned after the 2002 season, finished with a streak of four straight playoff appearances and three straight unbeaten regular seasons. In his four seasons on the Buccaneer sidelines, Peacock had a remarkable 42-5 record.
Former Buccaneer player, Kevin Finfrock followed Peacock with a four-year record of 34-9 and led the Buccs to three playoff appearances in his tenure.
David Miller took over at the helm in 2007 and in his first nine seasons he led the Buccs to the state playoffs. Under Miller, the Buccs finished 11-1 in 2007, 9-3 in 2008, 8-4 in 2009, 11-1 in 2010, 10-1 in 2011, 12-1 in 2012, 11-1 in 2013, 6-5 in 2014 and 8-3 in 2015.
In 2016, Covington saw the dawning of a new era under Tyler Cates, who led the Buccaneers to an 11-1 record and a state playoff birth. Cates' second season wasn't as fruitful as the Buccaneers saw a twelve-year playoff streak end with a 5-5 season.
The one-year playoff drout ended in 2018 as the Buccaneers came back after losing the first three games of the season to run the table and finish 7-3 in the regular season. This was enough to secure a playoff birth for the 22nd time in school history and the Buccaneers finished the season with a 7-4 record after a loss in the opening round of the post season to Lima Central Catholic.
In 2019 the Buccaneers went 10-3 overall and reached the Regional Final game for the sixth time in school history and first time since 2012.
2020 saw the Buccaneers face an opponent off of the field in the Covid-19 pandemic, but were able to find a way to complete a ten-game schedule with a 5-5 record. They also competed in the state playoffs for the 24th time in school history as all teams in the state were eligible to enter the tournemnt. Covington earned the fifth seed in Region 24 and reached the Regional Quarterfinal round.
Doug Swartz...Legendary Player and Coach! Doug Swartz was a 1975 graduate from Covington, where he played football, basketball and baseball. He was most noted for his football prowess as he was the only player in Buccaneer history to be named all-state on both offense and defense in the same season - and he accomplished that at a time where there were three divisions, not six. He was also a key figure on the greatest team in Covington history - the 1973 state championship team. Doug was also a mainstay as an assistant coach from 1987 to the time of his death in 2009. Over that time period he has touched the lives of hundreds of kids who sat in his classroom and those who walked out onto the practice field each fall.
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30 LEAGUE CHAMPIONSHIPS:
1951 (7-0-2) - Tri-County League
1952 (9-0) - Tri-County League
1957 (8-1) - Little Buckeye League
1959 (9-1) - Little Buckeye League
1960 (10-0) - Little Buckeye League
1961 (7-2) - Little Buckeye League
1964 (7-2) - Mad River Valley
1965 (9-1) - Mad River Valley
1968 (10-0) - Mad River Valley
1973 (10-0) - Three Rivers Conference
1978 (9-1) - Three Rivers Conference
1979 (10-0-1) - Three Rivers Conference
1980 (10-0-1) - Three Rivers Conference
1985 (11-2) - Southwest Rivers Conference
1995 (9-1) - Cross County Conference
1996 (10-1) - Cross County Conference
1999 (9-2) - Cross County Conference
2000 (12-1) - Cross County Conference
2001 (11-1) - Cross County Conference
2002 (10-1) - Cross County Conference
2003 (10-1) - Cross County Conference
2005 (9-2) - Cross County Conference
2006 (10-1) - Cross County Conference
2007 (11-1) - Cross County Conference
2010 (11-1) - Cross County Conference
2011 (10-1) - Cross County Conference
2012 (12-1) - Cross County Conference 2013 (12-1) - Cross County Conference
2015 (8-3) - Cross County Conference
2016 (11-1) - Cross County Conference
Burr Simpson...He Started It All! He coached only 3 seasons and recorded a modest 12-10-2 record but Burr Simpson is the foundation for Buccs football. He coached the Buccs' first team in 1947 and built the program from nothing into a 6-2 team in 1949. He set the foundation for coaches who followed him. Consider, Burr Simpson's first season ended with a 2-6 record and in his second year he built his team into a winner by going 5-2-2. His team improved again in 1949 with a 6-2 record. With the wheels in motion, Paul Devine stepped in and recorded a 6-3 record in 1950, a 7-0-2 record in 1951 and a perfect 9-0 record in 1952.
Kevin Finfrock was a standout player and coach at Covington and is a member of the Covington Athletic Hall of Fame.
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