|A MESSAGE FROM THE GREATS...is what the Buccaneers received from Larry Warner (speaking) and the legendary 1960 football team.
|HONORING "BIG DOUG"...
with 25 second clocks that were donated in the memoray of Doug Swartz. Above, Doug's father accepts a plaque from Covington Athletic Director, Roger Craft.
AUGUST 20, 2010 - COVINGTON
It was a special night in Covington in the final scrimmage against Versailles, although the Buccs came up on the short end of a 34-21 score.
For one, a 25-second play clock was dedicated to former Buccaneer player and coach Doug Swartz, who passed away last May, and the 1960 team was honored for their 50th anniversary of a state title claimed in 1960.
"This was a special night for our kids and our fans," said Covington coach Dave Miller. "To honor Doug that way was really special to everyone who knew him. And to have the 1960 team there to talk to our kids was just phenomenal."
The presentation to Doug Swartz was done before the varsity scrimmage with Doug's father, Marvin and his wife Connie, accepting the honors on his son's behalf.
The 1960 team also spoke to the entire Buccaneer football team, reiterating what the coaches have been preaching to the kids about how Covington football is to be played.
"You know, to have those guys come down and talk to our kids, I can't thank them enough," said a very emotional Covington coach. "They said it as well as it's ever been said, about what Covington football means in this town and how it is suppose to be played. I just hope our young men take it to heart and really focus on how they can represent Covington football the way the 1960 team did. If we can do that, I'm sure we'll accomplish some amazing things this year."
The Buccs listened and showcased what Buccaneer football was all about in the opening drive by moving the ball from the 30 and hitting pay dirt on a halfback pass from Tyler Noffsinger to Gabe Mohler.
After stopping Versailles on it first possession, Covington began putting together another drive. But a fumble turned the momentum as Versailles connected on a long pass to tie the score at 7-7.
Covington then moved the ball to the Tiger 25, only to fumble the ball away again. Versailles took advantage with a short screen pass that went the distance for a 14-7 lead at the end of the first quarter.
"We moved the ball all night, but you can't put the ball on the ground like we did," Miller said. "That will kill you."
The Buccs fumbled five times in the contest, four of those resulting in turnovers.
"We dropped a lot of pitches and that concerns me," Miller continued in his observation of the fumbles. "Only once did we fumble on a legitimate hit. The rest were careless mistakes due to a lack of focus. We'll address that in practice."
Versailles was impressive with its own offense as it kept Covington off balance with its spread formation, virtually passing the ball on every down. The Tigers burnt the Buccs twice more on long pass plays to push their lead to 27-7 and then scored on a short pass to go up 34-7.
"I'm not too concerned about the score in a scrimmage because we do try some things we may not try in a regular season game," said Miller. "Some kids we watched how many snaps they had because we want to go into week one as healthy as we can. I give Versailles all the credit in the world because they have a very nice football team over there. They'll do well this year in the MAC, that's for sure."
The Versailles offense returned the favor in fumbles in the fourth quarter by putting the ball on the ground twice to give the Buccs the ball in great field position. Both times Covington scored to cut the margin to 34-21 at game's end.
"I know they (Versailles) had some reserve kids in there (at the end), but we did a nice job of staying with it and continuing to compete," Miller said. "We mixed a lot of things up all night, trying to get a lot of our younger kids into the game in a varsity situation - just to see how they would react. Overall, I pretty pleased with how we reacted."
Which makes the result of a scrimmage misleading, because only the coaching staff knows what they were trying to accomplish.
"First and foremost we wanted to stay as healthy as possible because we are pretty banged up right now," Miller explained. "Second, I wanted to see how well we compete and I felt we competed much better than we did last week at Eaton. Third, I wanted to see our depth get tested and they did."
Regardless of the score, Miller came away optimistic about where his team is heading into week one - especially after a trying week where his starting quarterback went down and several other kids were sitting on the sideline tonight nursing injuries.
"We've had a very tough week," Miller stated. "We've faced a lot of adversity and our depth is getting tested right now. Still, we managed to do some nice things against a very good football team. We moved the ball pretty well and our offensive line did a nice job. There's a lot we can build on."
One thing Covington can build on is the speech given by the 1960 football team.
"It goes back to what those guys said (the 1960 team)," continued Miller. "You have to stick together as a team and have each others back. That's the key for us. We can't listen to all of the naysayers. Instead, we have to believe in one another and what we can accomplish together - set the bar as high as we want to and work our tails off to accomplish it. When things are bad, we have to find that extra something that resides deep down in the bottom of our heart and find a way to overcome. If we do that, we'll be something."
Just like the 1960 team.