September 18, 2009 – COVINGTON
The big concern for the Covington faithful heading into Friday night’s homecoming contest against Tri-County North was how the Buccaneer offense would perform with the injury loss of junior quarterback Jake Bitner.
That concern was immediately resolved in the first two minutes of the game as Covington scored two touchdowns on its first two offensive plays on perfect reads by Bitner’s replacement, sophomore Isaiah Winston.
“On both of those plays, Isaiah made the perfect read,” praised a very pleased Buccaneer coach Dave Miller of the sophomore quarterback, who made his first start in a varsity game. “He (Winston) had a good week of practice and really, he’s had three games of experience before this (in three scrimmages). Isaiah played very well and I’m proud of him.”
Winston in fact did play well – well enough to spark 55 first half points en route to a 55-14 victory to improve the Buccs to 3-1 overall and 3-0 in the CCC. All in his first outing as a varsity starting quarterback.
“Isaiah has instincts you can’t coach,” continued Miller in his praise of Winston. “He’s got a shiftiness about him that comes natural, something not many kids have. Once he gets a better understanding of the offense, he’s going to be amazing. I really believe that.”
Covington’s special teams and defense helped Winston’s cause thanks to a return on the opening kickoff to the three, a 92-yard punt return for a touchdown and a 56-yard interception return for a score.
“Those plays by our special teams and defense were huge,” said Miller. “It allowed Isaiah to relax and run the offense.”
The opening kickoff return by junior Tyler Noffsinger also set the tone for the game and his school-record 92-yard punt return was salt in an open wound for the visiting Panthers.
“We played very well on special teams,” Miller stated. “That (special teams) can be a difference maker and the kids take a lot of pride in that aspect of the game.”
Garrett Clark, who tallied 153 yards on 10 carries, began the scoring on a 3-yard run after Noffsinger’s game-opening return.
After Covington held the Panthers on their first possession, Clark broke loose from 40 yards out on the first play of the next possession to give the Buccs a 14-0 lead 1:54 into the game.
Tri-County North responded with a 3-yard run by Michael Olinger to cut the margin to 14-6, but the flood gates opened over the remainder of the first half.
Isaiah Winston capped an impressive Covington drive with a 1-yard run and Jordy Meyer intercepted a Panther pass and raced 56 yards for the score less than a minute later.
“Jordy (Meyer) is a good athlete and he’s got some good hands,” said Miller. “He use to be a tight end before we moved him inside, so he has a lot of ability. He’s had two nice games in a row and we need that type of effort from here on out.”
Noffsinger’s punt return for a score followed and Clark capped a 41-point first quarter with a 46-yard run.
Covington didn’t let up in the second quarter as it put two more touchdowns on the board.
First, freshman Alex Baskerville scored his first high school touchdown on a 17-yard run. Junior Ben Wilson closed out the first half with a 1-yard run to make the score 55-6.
And the dominance up front by the Buccaneers was evident.
“We’ll have to look at the film, but I think our offensive and defensive lines dominated,” Miller said. “And with the guys we have up front, we should dominate – at least that’s what we expect of those guys. It’s all up to them.”
The Buccaneers didn’t score in the second half, but they didn’t have to. The only score of the half came from Tri-County North in the final minutes on a 3-yard run by JJ McPherson.
“You want to see what kind of effort your kids will give for four quarters,” said Miller. “With a lead like that it’s difficult to maintain that level of intensity when you are getting younger kids into the game. We did have some mental mistakes here and there, but I didn’t see anything physically where we weren’t playing with effort and intensity. We’ll know more when we look at the film.”
Covington will also know more next week at Miami East, because four quarters of high intensity football will be needed to unseat the defending conference champions.
“East will be tough, there’s no doubt about that,” Miller said. “They put one on Bethel tonight and they are the defending conference champions. They are the team to beat until proven otherwise. We’ll have our work cut out for us because it’s going to be a dog fight.”
Which is something Covington needs at this point of the season if it wants to accomplish the goals set prior to the season.
“Our first goal is to win the conference,” Miller continued. “The only way to do that is beat the best out there. We’ll have to come into practice this week focused on getting better on every snap.”
Like the old saying goes – “You play the way you practice” . The effort and intensity given at practice will determine the Buccs’ fate next week.
SCORE BY QUARTERS:
BUCCS – 41 – 14 – 0 – 0 = 55
PANTHERS – 6 – 0 – 0 – 8 = 14
Covington: Garrett Clark 3-yard run (Christian Kick) 11:51
Covington: Garrett Clark 40-yard run (Christian Kick) 10:06
TC North: Michael Olinger 3-yard run (Kick Blocked) 8:35
Covington: Isaiah Winston 1-yard run (Christian Kick) 6:08
Covington: Jordy Meyer 56-yard interception return (Christian Kick) 4:55
Covington: Tyler Noffsinger 92-yard punt return (Kick Failed) 3:18
Covington: Garrett Clark 46-yard run (Steven Blei Kick) 0:17
Covington: Alex Baskerville 17-yard run (Blei Kick) 10:26
Covington: Ben Wilson 1-yard run (Blei Kick) 0:56
TC North: JJ McPherson 3-yard run (Allen Clark 2pt reception)