|Justin Williams and the Buccaneer defense made big plays all night.
|Jared Williams heads to the end zone for Covington's first score.
AUGUST 30, 2013 - ST. HENRY
You could sense the pride Covington coach Dave Miller had in his football team as he stood silent with his hat in his hands and a slight grin on his face while watching his team sing the alma mater in the east end zone after a thrilling 35-21 victory over St. Henry.
And Miller communicated his pride in the post game interview.
"What we did tonight was impressive," said Miller. "St. Henry is a program with a lot of pride and tradition and we knew it would be tough to come to there place and get a win. Our kids were up to the challenge tonight and I couldn't be more proud of them for the effort they gave."
Covington received the opening kickoff, but was forced to punt at midfield. Freshman Nathan Blei booted a beauty, spotting the ball inside the Redskin ten.
From there, the Buccaneer defense stopped St. Henry on three straight plays and the Redskins gave Covington the ball back just 20 yards from the end zone on a shanked punt.
Two plays later sophomore quarterback Jared Williams faked out the St. Henry defense and weaved his way in from 20 yards out to give Covington a 7-0 lead with just over 7:00 left in the first quarter.
"The punt by Blei was a big play because it turned the field position in our favor," Miller explained. "There's a freshman with ice water in his veins."
The Covington defense forced St. Henry to punt on its next possession and the offense took advantage with a 15-yard touchdown run by A.J. Ouellette to push the Buccaneer lead to 14-0.
But the pride the St. Henry football program has was on display on the opening drive of the second quarter as the Redskins converted on two big passes to put the ball inside the Buccaneer five.
Covington's defense tried gallantly to keep the Redskins out of the end zone, but Jordan Osterholt reached across the goal line on fourth down to cut the deficit to 14-7.
"That's a good program," Miller said of St. Henry. "They are well coached and have a lot of athletes. You combine that with the pride and tradition they have, you know you are in for a battle."
And Covington was up to the challenge as it scored twice more before the half.
First, sophomore fullback Brandon Magee powered his way up the middle from eight yards out and then Jared Williams capped an impressive Buccaneer drive with a four-yard pass to his older brother, Justin Williams.
This made the score 28-7 at the break in favor of Covington, but the tied turned on the opening possession of the second half as St. Henry marched right down the field to set up first-and-goal at the seven.
But once again, Covington was put to the challenge as it held the Redskins on four straight plays and took the ball over at the nine on a fourth down tackle in the backfield by sophomore James Grilliott.
"We had a lot of younger kids step up really big tonight," Miller explained. "We had two starting linebackers out on the goal line stand and the younger kids made the plays."
The younger kids also made St. Henry pay for focusing so much of its attention on A.J. Ouellette.
Several times Jared Williams, Brandon Magee and freshman Nathan Blei picked up huge chunks of yardage as the Redskins went after Ouellette.
"That's the nature of the (triple-option) offense," explained Miller. "If you focus on one guy, someone else will beat you."
Behind the running of Williams and Magee, the Buccaneers put together a clock-draining drive that reached inside the St. Henry ten.
Unfortunately, Covington committed the one cardinal sin against a good team - turning the ball over by fumbling into the end zone.
And the new life was all St. Henry needed as it marched 80 yards the other way to cut the deficit to 28-14 early in the fourth quarter.
"I like the effort, but we have to do everything humanly possible to protect the football," Miller said.
The new life St. Henry gained by Covington's generosity and an impressive drive as immediately taken away as the Buccs put together a drive that symbolizes the Dave Miller style of football - a drive that methodically broke down the St. Henry defense.
Starting at its own 30, Covington drove 70 yards in five minutes and sealed the deal with a three-yard plunge by Ouellette.
St. Henry did score with 30 seconds left on Covington's reserve unit, but by then the Buccs were celebrating a huge season-opening victory.
"This is an all-round, good win for us," said Miller. "It was a team win. We overcame some mistakes and a lot of adversity tonight. We had guys banged up a bit and other kids came in and played well. This was the ultimate team win."
A win that put a slight grin on Coach Miller's face.