By Ben Robinson
COVINGTON — It’s a new era of Covington football as Ty Cates takes over the reins from long-time coach Dave Miller, who had moved on to the highest level of high school football (Division I) by accepting the head coaching job at Kettering Fairmont this past winter after leading the Buccaneers to nine straight state playoff births in his nine years at Covington.
“This is a dream job,” said Cates after being hired by Covington to replace Miller. “I’m very well aware of the tradition here at Covington and I truly embrace this tradition. I know about the twenty-nine league championships, the sixteen playoff appearances in the last seventeen years, the two state championships and the state runner-up team, so yes, the tradition here is amazing. I embrace it and I want the kids to embrace it as well.”
And Cates expects to carry on the tradition – focused to ultimately take the program to another level.
“I want to take the program to the next level – at least that’s the goal,” he emphasized with a sense of competitive purpose. “Now I don’t want to come here and promise state championships, but the reality is ‘THAT IS’ the ultimate goal. We want to get past the MAC teams and not just compete with them. They are the standard right now and we want to beat them.”
In his first year at Covington, Cates retains just twenty players who were in uniform under Miller last year, so he feels he can put his stamp on the program rather quickly.
“Coach Miller did a marvelous job here at Covington and he is a legend, but I want to add my own stamp on the program” Coach Cates said. “I plan on being more balanced on offense between the run and the pass. I feel in order to beat teams in the playoffs that you have to make them respect the pass and the run.”
Defensively for Covington, the scheme will be slightly different under new defensive coordinator John Shutts, but the philosophy will be much of the same.
“The thing about Covington, especially when you look at the kids on film, they play one-hundred miles-per-hour and fly to the football,” Cates explained. “We’re not going to change that philosophy, but we will add to it with different defensive alignments and techniques. There will be some adjustments, but the idea is to put the kids in position to make plays.”
And Cates is blessed to have plenty of ammunition at his disposal as he fields a senior class of thirteen, including eight seniors who will be three-year starters; Branden Robinson, Deron White, Nathan Blei, Seth Thomas, Adam Lefeld, Zane Barnes, Lance Miller and Carl Lankford. White, Robinson and Blei have also lettered in each of their three previous seasons of high school ball – all playoff seasons.
“We have a great senior class and they’ve bought in from day one,” said Cates. “They’ve set the tone, holding themselves and the underclassman accountable when it comes to effort, attitude and accountability. That makes our job as coaches much easier because we can focus on coaching football.”
With the senior class leading the way, the Buccaneers enjoy their largest roster since 2013 with fifty players as many kids returned to the field after sitting out last season and a large freshman class of twenty-one players join the ranks.
“I like our younger kids,” praised Cates. “We have some tough freshmen and sophomores who will give us good looks on the scout team and push some of our varsity players.”
Even with the evolution of learning a new offense and defense, the expectations at Covington are as high as ever.
“At Covington, the expectations are always high,” Cates said. “No class wants to be the one that doesn’t win a CCC title or fails to make the playoffs, because those things are expected here. We have a good senior class with a lot of experience who we will rely on for leadership. I’m so excited to have the opportunity to work with these kids.”
Covington will begin its 70th season of Buccaneer football on Friday, hosting St. Henry.