AUGUST 20, 2021 – ST. HENRY
The Covington Buccaneers opened up the 2021 season on the road against a very big, athletic and experienced St. Henry team on Friday and came away with a 42-0 defeat to the Redskins.
Yes, it was a rough outing for the Buccaneers as they managed just six total yards of offense on the night, but one has to look beyond the stats and the final score to maintain perspective of what may be on the horizon for Covington.
The Buccaneers are fielding the youngest football team with the lowest numbers in uniform since the 2014 season – AND this team is nearly identical to that team of seven years ago with several freshmen and sophomores forced into starting roles. The 2014 team took its lumps at times, but managed to exceed expectations to finish 6-4 and qualify for the state playoffs.
The only difference between the 2014 team and the 2021 Buccaneer squad is the schedule this year is much more challenging, which in the long run should advance the overall improvement of Covington at a quicker pace.
This Buccaneer squad has that same potential due to the effort shown on the field – even in a 42-0 defeat.
And Covington showed improvement on Friday from the beginning of the game to the final whistle.
Early on it was apparent that St. Henry was a much more mature football team as it moved the ball at will against the Covington defense and also made life difficult for the Buccaneer offense. It all resulted into a 35-0 lead for St. Henry at the break.
“The physicality and experience, that was the difference,” said Covington coach Austin Morgan. “The big thing we preach is we want contact on our terms, but they dictated everything on their terms.”
Still, Covington was able to come up with some big plays as it recovered a fumbled punt return early and also picked off a Redskin pass late in the first half on a great defensive play by sophomore Trey Schmelzer. The Buccaneers also forced a third turnover in the third period with its swarming defensive effort.
But the overall difference in the contest was St. Henry’s dominance at the line of scrimmage on both sides of the football.
“If I’m going to go fight, I need to control the fight by delivering the blow,” Morgan said. “To me, what we are lacking is we are not dictating the fight – not delivering the blow. They are delivering on us.”
Much of that is due a the lack of experience and self belief. Covington has size up front – not as much as St. Henry – but the Buccaneers were reactive up front instead of playing physical and aggressive.
This made life difficult for quarterback Jensen Wagoner and freshman running back Izaiah Sherman, who both combined for negative 21 yards rushing.
It also made it difficult for Wagoner to find time to hit open receivers as he connected on five passes for 27 yards.
Defensively, Covington was on the field for much of the game as the Buccaneers only managed two first downs and punted seven times.
But after addressing some of the mistakes at the break, the Buccaneers played much more inspired football in the second half despite a running clock.
St. Henry managed to score on a 14-yard run late in the third, but other than that the Buccaneers payed toe-to-toe with the Redskins until many junior varsity players took to the field in the final quarter.
“We talk to the kids about a golf ball and how the more dents it has in it the longer it travels,” Morgan said. “Our kids have some dents and we are fairly young, so as long as they continue to buy into the program we will have better days ahead.”
In all, St. Henry tallied 376 yards of total offense to six for Covington. The Buccaneers only committed two penalties and turned the ball over once via fumble, while St. Henry was flagged 10 times and had three turnovers.
The Buccaneers face another stiff test next Friday in the home opener against Mechanicsburg.
SCORE BY QUARTERS:
BUCCS – 0 – 0 – 0 – 0 = 0
REDSKINS – 7 – 28 – 7 – 7 = 42
1st – SH: Owen LeFeld 14-yd run (PAT Good)
2nd – SH: Owen LeFeld 19-yd run (PAT Good)
2nd – SH: Elijah Horstman 1-yd run (PAT Good)
2nd – SH: Bennett Gels 22-yd pass from Dustin Lange (PAT Good)
2nd – SH: Bennett Gels 20-yd pass from Bryce Brookhart (PAT Good)
3rd – SH: Elijah Horstman 14-yd run (PAT Good)