|Garrett Clark finished his senior year with the third best single season rushing total in school history with 1459 yards.
Dave Miller came to Covington three years ago with a plan of action to take a traditionally strong program to another level. Prior to his arrival, the Buccs were a perennial 10-0 team that ran into state powers in the playoffs - only to fall short of reaching the ultimate goal.
"This (being the head coach at Covington) is what I was looking for," Miller said on his hiring in 2007. "Here, the expectations are high and they'll continue to be high. Our goals will be to win the league, make the playoffs and ultimately win a state title."
It's been a gradual progression for the Buccs in the past three years as Miller has led his program to three straight appearances in the playoffs.
But after this - the third season under Miller - the thought of a state title in the near future is becoming more and more realistic. Miller and the Buccs are closing the gap.
This is evident by the performance of the Buccs in the state playoffs as Covington knocked off the top seed in Region 24 (Ansonia) 28-7 in the opening round of the tournament. The Buccs then put on an impressive display of effort, intensity and heart in a narrow 21-17 defeat to perennial power Marion Local in the regional semifinals.
This was the same Marion Local team that fell 10-7 to Division 5 regional finalist St. Henry earlier in the season. It was the same Flyer team that beat Anna, a Division 5 playoff team, in the final week of the season. It was also the same Marion Local team that beat Lehman 24-3 in the opening round of the playoffs and won the regional title with a 27-0 victory over Fort Loramie.
And Covington had that Marion Local team on the ropes.
"The way you guys finished up the season shows the type of character you have," coach Miller told the kids at the awards banquet. "You proved you are capable of playing with anybody. It doesn't matter who it is."
After ten weeks of football it didn't look like the Buccs would even get the chance in the playoffs as all indications pointed to the players turning in the pads following a 7-3 season. As the kids walked off the home field after a 28-6 victory over Mississinawa Valley, a season of adversity appeared to be over.
Fortunately, the Buccs did get a second chance as they qualified for the eighth spot in Region 24 in the most unexpected manner. Cincinnati Country Day lost and the five teams it needed to win lost, giving the Buccs more computer points and new life.
The way it went down may have been a blessing as each player was forced to face the reality of the season being over - before it was actually over.
The kids got to reflect on all the hard work they put in throughout the offseason - the 6am lifting sessions, the hundreds of forty four-forties, the loss of Coach Swartz, and all the injuries suffered throughout the year.
So when word got out that the Buccs were rewarded with a second chance, you could sense the kids were going to take full advantage of it.
And the Buccs did take advantage of a second chance by showcasing just how good this team is. Fully healthy for the first time since summer camp, the Buccs opened the playoffs with a convincing 28-7 win over unbeaten Ansonia - the same team that beat Covington 35-7 just four weeks prior. Then there was the Marion Local game where the Buccs proved they are right up there with the best teams in the state.
Which only ads to the excitement for 2010 as 23 out of the 36 kids on the roster lettered in 2009. With the six seniors leaving to graduation the Buccs will have 17 returning letterman in 2010. Plus, out of the 13 kids who didn't letter, each and every one of them saw significant action - whether it was playing spot duty and special teams on Friday nights or playing junior varsity ball on Saturdays.
But it all comes down to how hard the kids work over the next nine months.
"Now you have to come in here and work even harder next year," Miller continued at the awards banquet. "The sky is the limit if you come in with the right attitude and carry that torch left by the seniors."
2010 can't get here soon enough.
2009 LETTER WINNERS:
Senior - Ben Christian - 4th year
Senior - Adam Craft - 4th year
Senior - Garrett Clark - 3rd year
Senior - Teddy Hale - 3rd year
Senior - Jordy Meyer - 3rd year
Senior - Taylor Reames - 2nd year
Junior - Josh Boehringer - 3rd year
Junior - Cory Ely - 2nd year
Junior - Jake Bitner - 2nd year
Junior - Cory Haines - 2nd year
Junior - Ben Wilson - 2nd year
Junior - Sam Angle - 1st year
Junior - Tyler Noffsinger - 1st year
Sophomore - Sam Christian - 2nd year
Sophomore - Darren Clark - 2nd year
Sophomore - Brandon Powell - 2nd year
Sophomore - Sam Earick - 2nd year
Sophomore - Steven Blei - 1st year
Sophomore - Zach Henslee - 1st year
Sophomore - Isaiah Winston - 1st year
Freshman - Kyler Deeter - 1st year
Freshman - Alex Baskerville - 1st year
Freshman - Gabe Mohler - 1st year
First Team: Ben Christian, Garrett Clark and Teddy Hale
Special Mention: Jordy Meyer
Honorable Mention: Josh Boehringer
Back of the Year: Garrett Clark
First Team: Ben Christian, Josh Boehringer, Garrett Clark and Tyler Noffsinger
Second Team: Teddy Hale
Honorable Mention: Jordy Meyer
Ben Christian - 3rd Team
Garrett Clark - 3rd Team
Josh Boehringer - Honorable Mention
Tyler Noffsinger - Honorable Mention
4-year award: Ben Christian and Adam Craft
3-year award: Garrett Clark, Teddy Hale, Jordy Meyer and Josh Boehringer
Mr. Football: Teddy Hale
Dr. Girouard Sportsmanship Award: Darren Clark
Lineman of the Year: Ben Christian
Back of the Year: Garrett Clark
"Brotha" Offensive Award: Isaiah Winston
Skull & Cross Bone Award: Cory Ely
Dan Rindler Memorial Award: Jordy Meyer
Most Improved: Tyler Noffsinger