By Ben Robinson
COVINGTON – The Covington Buccaneers closed out the regular season with a 42-6 victory over Ansonia on Friday and by all indications secured the second seed in the Division VIII, Region 26 Playoffs with an 8-2 record. The Buccs will host a first round playoff game next Friday at 7:30pm against an opponent to be named on Sunday.
The win also locks up a share of the Cross County Conference title, the 15th CCC Championship and 29th league championship in school history. Covington shares the title with Miami East, who the Buccaneers defeated 21-20 in overtime three weeks ago as both teams field 7-1 league records.
“This is a good way to close out the regular season, especially on a night where we honor our seniors,” said Covington coach Dave Miller. “Now we look forward to the next step.”
As satisfying as the win was for Covington, its wasn’t a masterful performance by any stretch of the imagination. That’s because Covington hurt itself with mistakes – primarily a penalty that negated a touchdown, a fumble at midfield on a potential scoring drive, and a blown coverage resulting in an Ansonia score at the end of the half – all mistakes that could spell disaster in a close ball game.
“The kids played hard, minus the mistakes,” Miller said. “We made some mistakes tonight that we can’t make if we want to continue moving forward.”
The game started out with neither team able to accomplish anything on their opening possessions, but Buccaneer junior linebacker Deron White gave Covington some momentum by stepping in front of an Ansonia pass for an interception on the Tigers’ second possession.
Quickly, the Buccaneer offense made the Tigers pay as junior quarterback Nathan Blei found fellow junior Branden Robinson open behind the Ansonia defense for a 32-yard scoring strike and a 7-0 lead.
After forcing a Tiger punt on the ensuing possession Covington struck again as senior Jared Williams broke loose around right end and raced 45 yards untouched for a 14-0 lead.
Williams, who finished the game with 182 yards on just 8 carries, pushed the Buccaneer lead to 21-0 with a 74-yard scoring run on Covington’s next possession.
But suddenly, the Buccaneers began to self destruct as a long touchdown run by Shane Straw was called back due to a holding penalty and then Covington fumbled at midfield to give the Tigers the ball in excellent scoring position.
And the Tigers took advantage as Dane Wentworth found freshman Devyn Sink behind the Buccaneer defense for a 40-yard touchdown strike to make the score 21-6 at the break as the two-point conversion failed.
Whatever was said at halftime was what a lackluster Covington team needed because it was a different Buccaneer mentality on the field in the third quarter.
Jared Williams scored his third touchdown of the game on the opening possession of the half as he scooted around right end from 31 yards out to push the Buccaneer advantage to 28-6.
The Covington defense also picked up the pace, holding Ansonia to a three-and-out and taking over the ball once again near midfield.
After a long run by Ethan Herron moved the ball inside the Tiger five, senior Brandon Magee powered his way in from the one to increase Covington’s advantage to 35-6.
On the ensuing Tiger possession, Covington’s Coleman Ryan picked off a Dane Wentworth pass and returned the ball to the two. Senior scat back Shane Straw then did the rest as he scooted around left end for the score and a 42-6 lead as the third quarter came to a close.
From there the Buccaneers turned the game over to the junior varsity kids and started looking forward to the extended season in the state playoffs.
Covington racked up 348 yards of offense with 316 coming on the ground. The Tigers finished with 187 yards of offense.
“The kids were ready to play,” Miller said. “You could tell that from our pre-game warmup. But, we have some things we need to clean up before next week.”
The Buccaneer now await official word of who the first round playoff opponent will be.