over previously undefeated and Cross County Conference rival Twin
Valley South at Smith Field. Even though the Buccaneers (5-4, 4-0) out
gained the Panthers 316-150 in total offense, their 11 penalties for
112 yards (one of which negated a 62-yard pass play) and six fumbles
(three lost) were enough to give TVS reason to believe.
The victory improves Covington to 5-0 overall and 4-0 in the CCC. The Buccs are tied with Ansonia (4-1, 4-0) for the conference lead. Covington is looking for its eighth CCC title in nine years. The Bucs expect to win league games and they usually do.
TVS comes from an entirely different place. Second year coach Scott Cottingim’s Panthers were 0-20 the two years prior to his arrival. Last year under his patient guidance they won two games. This year they entered the game undefeated.
“It was a measuring stick game to see where we are as a program.” Cottingim said. “They (Covington) have a lot of history. We went toe-to-toe with them but they edged us at the end. That was the best defense we have played against all year. They run to the ball really well and they took us out of our game plan.
“But we’re starting to believe in ourselves. We won a couple of times last year and the kids are figuring out how to win. We liked that taste from last year and now we want to win every week. We won a few scrimmages and then we won a few games in a row.. so this hurts.”
Two years ago, Cottingim was the quarterback coach at Centerville.
Covington opened the scoring after recovering a Twin Valley fumble with a three-play, 32-yard drive that culminated in a one-yard touchdown run from senior quarterback Bill Dickey. Dickey ended the night with 81 yards rushing (on 15 carries) and 106 yards passing (6-for-9).
Jordy Burelison ran for 54 yards and a touchdown on 16 carries for the Bucs. Senior wingback Brock Iddings chipped in with 75 yards rushing and 36 yards receiving.
“We’ve got to stop getting penalties,” Dickey said. “Tonight we drove the ball great but we stopped ourselves with stupid penalties and by not hanging on to the football.
“We could have had a lot more points on the board, but that is in the past. I look to the future, and I feel great running this offense. Our offense is coming around but it is our defense that drives us. That was the first touchdown that we gave up all year.”
Covington ended the first half with a 10-play 72-yard scoring drive.
TVS mounted a drive of its own in the third quarter and cut the deficit to 14-7 when senior quarterback Josh Flynn found Devin Eisenhour in the end zone. Even so, the Bucs put the game out of reach when Iddings found the end zone on a counter right with just 42 seconds left in the third quarter.
“We had a lot of penalties tonight,” Covington head coach Dave Miller said. “That is a little uncharacteristic for us. We tell them to play aggressively, and sometimes we go a little beyond. The penalties are a result of that, but I’m not going to complain about the officials. They have a hard enough job to do.
“The fumbles are a different story. We have to work on that. We’re not going to be a good football team until we take care of the ball better.”
The last time the Panthers beat Covington in football (1999) it was Miller that was their coach. He is well aware of the improvements they have made.
“Twin Valley South has some nice athletes and their quarterback is one of the best athletes we’ll see all year,” Miller said. “(Joe) Maleski is one of the fastest guys in the league and they are going to win some games. They’re a good football team, so hats off to them. They played a good game.”
Flynn completed 7-of-12 passes for 105 yards. Senior fullback J. T. Stone contributed 27 yards on 13 carries.
“We held them to seven points tonight and that is outstanding,” Miller continued. “They’ve been averaging over 30 points a game. Hopefully our offense will get it together and catch up (with our defense) because right now they are really playing ball. They are disciplined and play hard. “
Covington’s defensive line lived in the Panther backfield. Their six combined sacks made it tough for Twin Valley South to establish any momentum.
“Our defensive coaches do a great job preparing us and the kids respond to it,” Miller smiled. “We have high expectations for our defense, especially our line, and all of them played a great game. It was a team effort.”
Next week, Covington visits National Trail. The Panthers will host Tri-County North.