• Post category:2016 SEASON
Coach Cates consoles his seniors after a disappointing loss in the regional semifinal.

The high school careers of 13 Buccaneer seniors came to an end on Saturday in a Regional Semifinal loss to Fort Recovery at Piqua’s Alexander Stadium, but one loss to the defending state champions doesn’t take away from what has been a very successful campaign for the Covington football team.

Which is something every Buccaneer fan already knows, even if the rest of the area and the state doesn’t.

Regardless of what is said from the outside, the Covington Buccaneers had a very successful campaign under first-year coach Ty Cates.

“We did have an amazing season,” Cates said as he fought back tears. “But, these guys wanted a (state) championship – and so did I. I know the score tonight doesn’t show it and I don’t care what anyone says, we had the talent to do it. We just had some things that didn’t go our way tonight.”

Which is a shame because of what these kids have had to overcome to put themselves in position to face the defending state champions in the regional semifinal round.

First, senior lineman Seth Thomas played the entire season with a torn ACL, an injury he suffered in early June during a conditioning drill. He hurt his knee again tonight in the first half, but still gutted it out by playing in much of the second half on the offensive side of the ball.

“That kid is a stud,” said Cates of Thomas. “Anybody who can do what he did with a torn up knee, that’s one tough kid.”

Second, junior standout running back and safety Ethan Herron returned from of torn meniscus tonight, but was only able to play until late in the first quarter.

Lastly, junior linebacker Joey Schmelzer attempted to play with a severe case of strep and ear infections in both ears.

These are not excuses for a defeat, but having three players out that hold down six positions on the field, the Buccaneers entered the game less than at full strength.

Still, the Buccaneers were able to strike first as quarterback Nathan Blei connected with Zane Barnes on a 22-yard pass on the opening possession of the game.

This was set up by a big kickoff return by Branden Robinson to the Indian 45 and four big runs by Lance Miller.

But Fort Recovery was able to respond with a pair of touchdowns to take a 14-7 lead and had the ball near midfield late in the half.

Which is when Covington’s Zach Parrett, who was inserted at corner after Herron was forced to the sideline, stepped in front of a slant pass by Fort Recovery’s Caleb Martin and raced 62 yards for the “pick six” to tie the score at 14-14 with 39 seconds left in the half.

Unfortunately for the Buccaneers, Martin and the Indians were able to drive 66 yards in three plays and hit pay dirt on a 21-yard scoring strike to go up 21-14 at the break.

It was momentum Covington couldn’t recover from in the second half as the Indians scored three more times to hand the Buccaneers a 42-14 defeat.

“That’s a great football team,” Cates said about Fort Recovery. “I know we had a good first drive. But, we didn’t play our best football tonight. We made too many mistakes out there. We had a lot of mistakes.”

In the end, it was a case of Covington playing its worst game of the year at the wrong time against a very good football team.

And unfortunately, the Buccaneers don’t get the opportunity to come back next week and show the style of football that has led to 11 wins in 2016.

It’s most unfortunate for the senior class of Tristin Sowers, Nathan Blei, Lance Miller, Zane Barnes, Branden Robinson, Kodie Taylor, Deron White, Mark Barga, Kenny Atkinson, Adam Lefeld, Carl Lankford, Seth Thomas and Christian Nelson because of what they have meant to the program and to Coach Cates in his first year at Covington.

“I am so proud of this group of seniors,” Cates said. “There is no one I would have rather had in building the program in my first year. These guys are all warriors. They were all season and they were again tonight.”

BUCCS – 7 – 7 – 0 – 0 = 14
INDIANS – 0 – 21 – 7 – 14 = 42

Lance Miller gets to the outside on a long run against Fort Recovery.
Branden Robinson makes a spectacular catch down the middle of the field with a defender draped all over him.
Seth Thomas played his entire senior season with a torn ACL and was injured again during the regional semifinal against Fort Recovery – yet he returned to the field and played his heart out in the final game of his high school career.