|POUND-FOR-POUND... Garrett Clark earned the title "Pound-For-Pound Champion".
JUNE 26, 2009 - COVINGTON
If the Covington Buccaneers hope to reclaim the top spot in the Cross County Conference and take their game to another level in the state play-offs, participation and commitment in the off-season program is a must.
And judging by the Lift-A-Thon results from Friday, the Covington Buccaneers appear to be taking care of business.
"Overall, the kids have done a good job in here (the weight room)," said Buccaneer coach Dave Miller. "We have a lot of guys steadily improving and that's all because of the effort they have given. This (the off-season program) is a good start (to the upcoming season)."
Fifteen Buccaneers earned recognition for finishing first or second in their respective weight classes or reaching pound-for-pound requirements of a 4.0.
Several other players improved their lifting numbers from their previous efforts.
"I'm pleased with the improvement we've shown as a team," Miller said. "Guys are challenging one another and encouraging each other to push themselves to get better."
The emotion in the weight room is apparent and it all starts with the upperclassman, in particular Ben Christian, Jordy Meyer, Teddy Hale and Garrett Clark.
"Our seniors have set the tone, without a doubt," Miller explained. "Those guys have taken it upon themselves to step up as leaders and say, 'This is how we do things'. And the younger kids have followed suit."
With a talented freshman class, the senior leadership is critical in their development.
"With all the kids we have that are new to the program, we are counting on the seniors to lead by example - and they've done that," Miller continued. "Hopefully it carries throughout the rest of the summer and into the season."
With the effort the kids have given in the weight room, Miller is cautiously optimistic that it will lead to bigger and better things on the football field this fall.
"It's a good start, but we still have a lot of work ahead of us," said Miller. "I like our attitudes right now and the camaraderie we have amongst the kids. But we have to keep improving every day."
Improvement is critical because the conference is as balanced as ever with several teams returning a lot of talent and ready to challenge defending champion Miami East for the top spot.
Ansonia, Twin Valley South, Bradford, Mississinawa Valley, Tri-County North all fielded youthful teams a year ago, while Miami East returns plenty of talent despite losing a large senior class.
"Our league is going to be tough," said Miller. "You have a lot of teams who will be there to challenge each other week in and week out. We'll have to be prepared to go to battle."
The season is still two months away, but the early signs indicate the Buccs are ready to do just that.
But as Miller stated, there's still a lot of work ahead.
"We have eight more weeks to get ready," Miller said. "We've done a good job so far and accomplished some nice things in the weight room. But we haven't won anything yet."