By Rob Kiser
They had heard it from the time they began playing football.
They heard it again after Covington’s 0-3 start this season — never mind that all three of those losses were to teams that are now playing in the playoffs as well.
But Covington’s seniors weren’t going to be denied.
Covington finished the season with seven straight wins and will play 8-1 Lima Central Catholic in the opening round of Division VI, Region 24 playoffs at 7 p.m. Friday night at Spartan Stadium.
“These seniors had heard from pee-wee that they were not good enough,” Covington football coach Ty Cates said. “So it means a lot to see them accomplish this. We are excited to be back in the playoffs — but, we are not satisfied. These kids want to win some games and that is the greatest thing about this kids.”
And there was certainly no sense of panic after the 0-3 start — especially when you consider the opponents were St. Henry, Minster and Fort Loramie.
“Those are three really good football teams that are still playing,” Cates said. “In the past, Covington would go 10-0 a lot and then lose the first playoff game. The previous coach and previous AD set up this schedule to help us. Definitely, it made us a better team playing that kind of competition. We knew we could win the rest of our games from there.”
Covington started the bounce back with a win over Tri-County North before a big Week 6 showdown with Miami East that the Buccs won 19-17.
“First, that was a big win over North,” Cates said. “That game with Miami East was a great game. We have a lot of respect for Max (Miami East coach Max Current) and their kids. It looked like it was going to come down to whoever had the ball last was going to win and fortunately, we were able to get the win.”
The Buccs feature a balanced offense and swarming defense that scores points as well as stopping opponents.
“In an ideal situation, we would like to be 60-40 (60 percent run, 40 percent pass),” Cates said. “With the inclement weather, we have gone more heavily to the run the last couple of weeks. Really, we just like to take what the other team is giving us.”
On defense, the Buccs use a 50-look. And that defense has not allowed more than one touchdown to anyone but Miami East since Week 3 — but the Buccs will be challenged Friday night.
LCC operates out of the wing-T on offense and a 3-5-3 look on defense.
Cates knows the Buccs defense will be put to the test Friday night.
“The biggest thing with them (LCC) is their speed,” he said. “The Mescher kid from Fort Loramie and Justin Brown from Miami East are the two fastest kids we have seen all season. And they have two or three players that are that fast or faster. When you are going against the wing-T, it takes a lot of preparation.”
And momentum is on the Buccs side.
While Covington comes in with seven straight wins, LCC was 8-0 before losing 21-14 to Lucas last Saturday night.
“We weren’t far from being a playoff team last year,” Cates said. “That was disappointing. So it is great to be back, and it is great to have kids who aren’t just happy to be there, but want to win some games.”
And it is another chance for Covington’s senior to keep proving everyone wrong.
Rob Kiser can be reached at (937) 451-3334.