By Rob Kiser
The tears were a measure of everything the Covington football team had accomplished in its first season under Ty Cates.
And the pain of seeing a perfect season and all the work they had put in end too soon.
And when the pain passes, the Buccs will realize everything they accomplished in an 11-1 season that ended with a 42-14 loss to defending state champion Fort Recovery in the Division VII playoffs Saturday night at Alexander Stadium/Purk Field.
“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.”
And Cates took one last moment to speak to his seniors, then give each one a hug.
In numerical order, that would be 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.
“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.”
And the game started the way the Buccs were hoping — a kickoff return by Robinson set Covington up its own 45-yard line and the Buccs traveled the 55 yards in five plays.
After four runs by Miller, Blei threw a 22-yard TD pass to Barnes and Blei’s kick made it 7-0 with 9:48 remaining in the first quarter.
Covington then had a defensive stop on Fort Recovery’s first possession when Miller hit Will Homan in the backfield and Deron White would drop him for a loss on fourth-and-two at the Covington 40.
But, after that, the running and receiving of Homan Jason Roessner would take control, while the Buccs would struggle to generate anything offensively on a consistent basis.
“That’s a great football team,” Cates said about Fort Reovery. “I know we had a good first drive. But, we didn’t play our best football tonight. We made too many mistkes out there. We had a lot of mistakes.”
In the first half alone, the two Indians backs rushed for 137 yards and had 91 yards receiving.
With Fort Recovery leading 14-7 after TD runs by Roessner and Homan, the Indians were looking for more late in the first half.
That’s when Covington’s Zach Parrett stepped in front of a slant pass at the Buccs 38-yard line and took it 62 yards for a “pick six”. When Blei kicked the extra point, the Buccs were tied at 14 with 39 seconds to go in the half.
“I am so glad we were able to convince him (Zach Parrett) to play football this year,” Cates said. “He is a great player and that was a great play. That gave us some momentum.”
But, it didn’t last long.
Fort Recovery quarterback Caleb Martin directed a three-play 66-yard drive. It ended with a 21-yard pass to Roessner with nine seconds to go in the half to put Fort Recovery up 21-14 after Tyler Acheson’s third of six PAT kicks.
The Indians would add three more touchdowns in the second half, while Covington could not score again.
For the game, Homan finished with 226 yards rushing on 23 carries, while Roessner added 85 on 10 carries.
Martin completed six of 12 passes for 121 yards, with Roessner catching three for 53 yards and Homan catching two for 43 yards.
For Covington, Miller led the rushing attack with 10 carries for 51 yards, while Blei completed nine of 27 passes for 126 yards, with two interceptions.
Robinson had five catches for 78 yards to lead the receivers.
“I am really proud of these kids,” Cates said.
And in a few days, those tears of joy will turn into appreciation for what they accomplished this season — as well as motivation for the future.
Rob Kiser is Sports Editor for the Daily Call. He can be reached at (937) 451-3334.