OCTOBER 12, 2018 – COVINGTON
There was a time when nearly every soul in the Covington and Bradford communities were in attendance each time the Buccaneers and Railroaders battled on the gridiron. Annually, and regardless of records, fans would pack the bleachers and stand two to three deep around the field hoping to see their team claim victory, along with bragging rights for an entire year.
But times have changed as the two football programs have gone in different directions with Covington becoming an annual conference power and Bradford struggling to maintain numbers of athletes in uniform.
And Friday’s head-to-head matchup saw the smallest crowd to probably ever witness a football game between Covington and Bradford – which is a darn shame because of the grit and determination the 15 kids in Railroader uniforms displayed while facing insurmountable odds against a Covington team fielding over 50 kids.
“I have to tip my hat to the Bradford kids,” said Covington coach Tyler Cates after his team cruised to a 53-2 win. “There’s something to admire about those kids hanging in there and playing hard with fourteen or fifteen kids. That community should be very proud of them and hopefully they can get more kids out (for football) in the future because football is the best of all sports to play, in my opinion.”
Even though it was never said by anyone, the Covington coaches and players knew going into the contest the probability of victory was as high as in any game on the schedule. But, Coach Cates and his staff made sure the Buccaneers treated this game as if it were as big as any other contest.
“We prepared like we always do,” Cates said. “You have to – because you never know.”
You never know because in football a play here or there can lead to momentum and momentum can lead to a major upset. It happens in all levels of football.
And Covington was reminded quickly of that as it fumbled at the Bradford one after easily driving the ball down the field on the opening possession of the game.
This lifted the kids on orange and black as Bradford was able to move the ball out of its own end of the field before Covington was able to make a big defensive stop to force a punt.
And the wakeup call was all Covington needed. A nice punt return by sophomore Trentin Alexander and a pair of bruising runs by junior fullback Gage Kerrigan led to a five-yard scoring run by junior Dalton Weer for a 6-0 lead as the point-after kick bounced off the left upright.
Even with the missed extra point, it was the start of a Covington onslaught.
“In a game like that kids have a tendency to lose their focus,” Cates explained. “But I’m proud of how our kids continued to play hard for four quarters.”
Both teams played hard, but Covington just had too many weapons for Bradford to contain.
The Buccaneers scored three more times before the first quarter ended on a 30-yard run by quarterback Cade Schmelzer, an 18-yard run by sophomore Duncan Cooper and a 17-yard run by Gage Kerrigan.
Kerrigan’s scoring run pushed the Buccaneer lead to 26-0 with 1:26 left in the opening quarter and it was decided before kickoff by both teams that a running clock would be in affect immediately if one team surged ahead to 21 points.
“It’s amazing how fast it (the game) goes with a running clock,” said Cates. “It went by so fast I was worried about being able to get all of the boys into the game.”
Cates was able to get every Buccaneer player in uniform into the game – and he was able to accomplish it without seeing a drop-off in execution.
The Buccaneers pushed the lead to 40-0 at the break as Dylan Burns scored on a 13-yard run and Parker Dysinger hauled in a 32-yard strike from Cade Schmelzer.
Alex Schaffer opened up the third quarter by capping a time consuming drive with an 11-yard scoring run to increase the margin to 47-0 with one quarter to play.
But Bradford has kids with heart and that heart was on display after a Railroader punt was touched down at the Covington two. The Railroader defense then stuffed a Buccaneer runner in the end zone for a safety just 20 seconds into the final frame.
Covington would have the final say, however, as sophomore quarterback Cael Vanderhorst tossed a short pass in the flat to Kaden Presser and the junior wideout weaved his way untouched for 51 yards to push the final margin of victory to 53-2.
“I was proud of our kids for coming out and playing hard,” praised Cates of his kids. “Our defense played well and offensively we were able to do the things we wanted to do.”
And by his team taking care of business, Cates was able to reward his younger kids with playing time on a Friday night.
“It was nice to get all of our younger kids into the game,” he said. “You know, they work hard every day in practice and it’s nice when you can reward them on Friday night.”
In all, Covington racked up 402 yards of total offense with 351 yards coming on the ground on what was a very wet and rainy night.
Bradford managed 59 yards of total offense with 12 yards rushing and 47 yards passing.
Covington improves to 5-3 overall and 5-1 in the CCC, while Bradford drops to 0-8 overall and 0-6 in the league.
Next up for Covington is a road contest at Twin Valley South (4-4) next Friday.
SCORE BY QUARTERS:
BUCCS – 26 – 14 – 7 – 6 = 53
‘ROADERS – 0 – 0 – 0 – 2 = 2
1st – COV: Dalton Weer 3-yd run (Kick Failed)
1st – COV: Cade Schmelzer 30-yd run (Brayden Wiggins Kick)
1st – COV: Duncan Cooper 18-yd run (Brayden Wiggins Kick)
2nd – COV: Gage Kerrigan 17-d run (Kick Failed)
2nd – COV: Dylan Burns 13-yd run (Brayden Wiggins Kick)
3rd – COV: Parker Dysinger 32-yd pass from Cade Schmelzer (Brayden Wiggins Kick)
3rd – COV: Alex Schaffer 11-yd run (Brayden Wiggins Kick)
4th – BRAD: Safety
4th – COV: Kaden Presser 51-yd pass from Cael Vanderhorst (Kick Failed)