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Larry Tisdale (51-17-1)
1967 3 6 0
1968 10 0 0
1969 8 2 0
1970 8 2 0
1971 7 3 0
1972 5 4 1
1973 10 0 0
Larrie Tisdale (38-13-3)
1978 9 1 0
1979 10 1 1
1980 10 1 1
1981 6 3 1
1982 3 7 0
The 1979 season was a special year for the Covington Buccaneers as it was the only appearance in the state championship game in school history. The memories from that season are cherished by those who experienced it.
Jeff Cain #40 and the 1979 Buccaneers had a season for the ages.
1979 BUCCS – 10-1-1
Tipp City
Miami East
Springfield Cath.
St. Henry
Indian Lake
Tiffin Calvert
Select Result for Game Story
Dave Tobias led the Buccs to the state title game and then played college football at Wittenburg.

The year 1979 was a special year for Covington football as the '79 Buccaneers became not only the first team in school history to reach the state championship game, but the first team in Miami County to reach the state play-offs.

The powerful Buccaneer team coached by the legendary Larrie Tisdale went through the regular season with a 9-0-1 record, the lone blemish a 0-0 tie against rival Bradford.

It was good enough to qualify for the state playoffs in a time when the state only took four teams in three divisions - not like the eight teams in six divisions today.

Covington then powered by Tiffin Calvert 20-0 for the Regional Championship to qualify for the state title game, where it would eventually fall to Mogadore in double overtime, 23-17.

That was 30 years ago and the memories from that season are fresh in the minds of those who lived it.

"It was crazy, not only in this town (Covington), but throughout the county," said Jeff Shields, a freshman that season who missed the entire year due to an injury suffered in an automobile accident. "Covington was the talk of the entire county at the time. I mean, the Troy and Piqua papers wrote everything you could imagine about that team.

"The entire town went crazy. They had pep rallies at the school. Bus loads of people went to the game. Banners were hanging in every store window around town. It was nuts."

Starting offensive and defensive end Tom Manson remembers fondly as well.

"The community was really behind us," Manson reflected. "I remember Harold Frantz rented a bus to take people to the state finals. There were like four or five buses that went over there (to Massilon). It seemed like everybody from Covington was there."

Jeff Cain, the starting fullback and starting left defensive end, is still amazed by how the town came together.

"For being a really small town like Covington, it was something to experience how everyone came together," Cain said. "To experience the fire trucks escorting us through town and the cars lining the streets as we came through town was neat.

"We went through all the work in two-a-days, all the practices and through the regular season games and we never really thought about the play-offs. All that kind of came as a surprise I guess. But it was a pretty neat experience."

All the hoopla of playing in the state finals was special to those who participated, but the memories of what it was like to be a part of that team was even more special.

"Our team was so unselfish," Manson explained. "What made that team great was you didn't know who was going to make a play, but someone was going to make it. Sure, we had some great players like (Dave) Tobias and (Joe) Schmidt, but they weren't bigger than the team. On any given play five or six guys could score and that's what made us good."

Quarterback and defensive back Dave Tobias agreed.

"We didn't have guys complain when they didn't get the ball," he said. "It didn't matter to anyone who got the ball or who had the most yards. Nobody cared who scored, as long as we scored."

Cain felt it was special because of the closeness of the team.

"It was the same guys who played together from pee wee all the way through high school," said Cain. "I can remember back when we were little kids and every Saturday and Sunday there would be fifteen or twenty of us playing football at (Jeff) Lauber's house. We just all hung out together."

Tobias remembers the closeness of the team as well.

"Being friends, we did things together all the time," Tobias said. "That allowed us to push each other in practice and get our work done. But we always had fun doing it."

Not only were the players good friends, the competitive nature of the group was at a championship level as well.

"We never thought we could get beat," Manson continued. "We were so darn competitive that the thought of losing never crossed our minds. To us, it was about how bad we were going to kick the crap out of the other team. Heck, we didn't even think teams could score on us. Even in the state championship game when that guy ran the last touchdown we felt it wasn't real. We just couldn't accept defeat."

Winning was something the players were accustom to through the junior high an pee wee levels.

"If I remember right, we didn't lose very often," Cain said. "I don't remember our record in pee wee, but I know we never lost in junior high. It just carried over to high school."

The caliber of competition Covington faced was brutal. The Buccs went through Parkway, Tipp City, Miami East, Springfield Catholic, Lehman, Versailles, Graham, St. Henry and Indian Lake in the regular season.

"I remember St. Henry came down here and all the talk was about Jim Lachey," Manson described of a game Covington won 41-12. "We got so sick of hearing about Jim Lachey and how great St. Henry was. On our first offensive play we ran a quarterback counter right over Jim Lachey and scored a touchdown (from 48 yards out). From then on we just beat the crap out of those guys."

The talent of the '79 team was unmistakable.

"We had so many weapons," said Tobias. "We had Rick Schmidt, Phil Reck, Tom Manson and Greg Rech we could throw the ball to. Or we could just give the ball to Joe (Schmidt) and let him run over people. We also had (Jeff) Cain at fullback and he was a great blocker. We were tough to defend."

The line of Don Fosnight, Dan Westfall, Kirk Tisdale, Jeff Lauber and Mark Landis wasn't the biggest group, but one that worked well as a unit.

"We weren't very big," said Cain. "I remember the guys from the early seventies and they were big. We played teams that had guys a lot bigger than us, but it didn't seam to matter. Our guys just did what we were suppose to do and got the job done."

In those days, playing both ways was the norm.

Cain and Manson manned the ends, while Todd Fields and Dan Westfall held down the interior of the defensive line. Joe Schmidt, Lauber, Rench and Fosnight were the linebackers, while Rick Schmidt, Tobias and Rob Girouard rounded out the secondary.

The coaches were legendary as Larrie Tisdale was the head coach and Bob Huelsman, Ed McCord and Steve Fisher were the assistants.

"We just had a lot of good guys to go along with some good coaching," said Cain. "Our coaches always had us prepared."

Manson agreed.

"You don't think about it at the time, but our coaching was as good as it gets," he said. "Bob Huelsman was an offensive genius. I mean, he had some plays, I don't want to call them trick plays, but they were pretty creative."

One play in particular likely saved Covington's chances at a play-off birth as Versailles was beating the Buccs 6-0 into the fourth quarter when Huelsman pulled a little trick out of his magic hat.

"I remember against Versailles he (Huelsman) had (Phil) Reck line up as a tackle-eligeable," Manson explained. "Reck ran down the middle of the field uncovered and (Dave) Tobias hit him in stride for a touchdown. Versailles had a great team that year and we ended up winning (7-6)."

As good as Covington's coaching staff was, it wouldn't have meant much if the players didn't have a commitment to the program. This commitment is what led to the individual players doing things on their own to get better.

"The school didn't have a weight room at the time and you only lifted if you wanted to," Shields said. "The guys on that team would get together and lift at Nick Steele's house or in someone's garage. I couldn't get out and lift because I was laid up (from his accident), but all the other guys did that on their own."

Even if it meant cleaning out an old shed to make room for weights.

"I'd say most of the guys lifted and I got introduced to weight lifting through Kirk Tisdale (a starting offensive lineman on the team)," said Jeff Cain. "He had an old shed at his place and we cleaned it out and built a weight room. It wasn't something we put a lot of thought into. It was just something we did."

The off-season program wasn't in place as it is today with the OHSAA allowing camp days and all the passing scrimmages. Practice in 1979 started with two-a-days in August.

"At that time we didn't have all that off-season stuff like they have now," said Manson. "It makes you wonder how good we would have been if we did, but most of the guys worked out on their own to get in shape for two-a-days. You just had a bunch of guys who loved football and worked to get better."

The end result was memories that will last a lifetime for a group of guys that accomplished something that had never been accomplished in the entire county to that point.

"The thing I cherish and miss the most about those days was just being around my buddies," said Cain. "I wish someone would have came up to me at the time and told me to play each game like it was your last and to enjoy every minute you have playing with your buddies. Because when it's over, it's over."

Tobias echoed Cain's remarks.

"The thing I miss was just going out there with my buddies on Friday nights," Tobias said. "Just the locker room, the practices, everything we did, we did it together. It was so much fun being out there with my buddies playing football and playing it at a high level. That's something I'll remember for the rest my life."

Manson has a unique memory from those days he carries with him.

"Our locker room at the time was in the elementary school," Manson said. "I remember we would walk out of that locker room and walk across the pavement with our cleats. The sound of our cleats hitting on the pavement in unison still gives me chills up my spine. We were ready to play."

The memories of the 1979 team are different for the players who experienced it than it is for the fans who witnessed it.

"Since I was hurt and couldn't play, I didn't get to experience what all the other guys did," said Shields. "But it was a special time. I'm friends with a lot of those guys and to see them play for a state championship was awesome."

Which makes the 1979 team legendary in the town of Covington.

Mark Landis #50, Dave Tobias #12, Joe Schmidt #42 and Jeff Cain #40 celebrate a victory over Tiffin Calvert in the state semi-final.