NOVEMBER 13, 2006 – COVINGTON
After the Covington Buccaneers’ playoff loss to Marion Local, a group of Flyer fans were passing through the parking lot when they noticed a number 11 sticker on the car of some Buccaneer fans who were preparing to head home.
A brief interaction occurred as one Marion Local fan asked, “Is number 11 your son.”
“No, he’s my nephew,” Julie Edgell responded.
“I just want to tell you he is one of the best players we’ve ever seen,” complimented the Flyer fan.
The Marion Local fans witnessed in one game what Covington fans have had the pleasure of watching in 38 games over the past four years. Gene Studebaker was unbelievable.
By high school standards, Covington has had some great athletes in it’s storied history. Each has his own legacy, but a Gene Studebaker will never happen again…not in our lifetime.
That may be a bold statement, but the numbers don’t lie.
He was a four-year starter at various positions on the field and played in 38 games, missing just five due to an injury his sophomore year.
Gene was versatile…playing at running back, quarterback, wide receiver, safety and returning kicks and punts at various times throughout his career.
He amassed an amazing 7197 all-purpose yards for an average of 189.4 yards per game.
Studebaker left as the school’s career rushing leader with 4150 yards and established a single-season rushing record of 1726 yards as a junior.
He was the only player in Covington history to rush and throw for over 1000 yards in a single season…rushing for 1447 yards and passing for 1408 yards as a senior.
Gene tallied a total of 88 career touchdowns, an average of 2.3 touchdowns per game.
He has been recognized for his play on the field by being selected as the Southwest District “Offensive Player of the Year” and the “Back of the Year” in the Cross County Conference two years straight. He was also a first team all-state selection as a junior and a virtual lock once the selections are made this year.
As impressive as the numbers are, there are those who will question Studebaker’s accomplishments…indicating the quality of the competition isn’t what it was in the ’60s and ’70s. To that, all you have to do is look at four games as proof of Studebaker’s talent.
First, in 2005 against then unbeaten Arcanum the Buccs were in a dog fight to stay in contention for a conference championship and a playoff birth in a hostile environment on the road.
Arcanum had just taken a 28-22 lead and had all of the momentum with 2:04 left in the game.
Studebaker came to the sideline and requested head coach Kevin Finfrock put the game on his shoulders. Finfrock did and Studebaker responded by taking the Buccs 65 yards in 58 seconds for the game-tying score. He then scored the two-point conversion to give the Buccs a 30-28 win.
As magical as that performance was, Studebaker topped himself against Tri-County North this past season. Again, it came on the road against a quality football team.
Trailing 26-7 midway through the third period, there was no indication that Covington had a chance. The Buccs had struggled over the entire first half and fumbled away any opportunities they had.
Somehow Studebaker brought the Buccs back by breaking loose on a 58-yard touchdown run and throwing three touchdown passes to Seth Mohler, the last one the game winner with 8 seconds left on the clock. Covington wins, 36-32.
Studebaker’s most impressive performances may have come in defeat…once against an eventual state champion and the other in his final high school game.
Last year the Buccs took on Division VI power Delphos St. John’s in the first round of the state playoffs. Although in a losing effort, Studebaker was magical…rushing for 140 yards and scoring both of Covington’s touchdowns. Delphos then went on to defeat every other opponent in its path on the way to the state championship…even holding its state championship opponent scoreless.
In Gene’s final high school game he was magical once again, accounting for 251 of the Buccs’ 286 yards of offense. Studebaker rushed for 121 yards and a touchdown and threw for 130 yards and another score.
Only time will tell how far Marion Local goes in the state playoffs, but Studebaker’s performance showed Marion fans what Bucc fans already knew…he’s one of the best we’ve ever seen.