By Ben Robinson
COVINGTON – Covington coach Tyler Cates was looking for a way to end the summer conditioning program with a bang and educate his current and future players on the tradition of Covington football at the same time.
And after several ideas were tossed around, it was decided to establish and event called “BuccFest” — an event which concluded with the final day of the annual football camp and an alumni football game.
“Covington football has a rich tradition and we were looking for a way to bring all levels of football together for one night – from the grade school kids to the alumni,” Cates explained. “That’s why we moved the final day of the football camp from the morning to five in the afternoon, so we could transition into an alumni game in the evening. This is the first time we’ve done this, but I think it turned out really well considering it’s a new idea.”
BuccFest, in a sense, actually began on Wednesday with the first day of the football camp and Coach Cates had a big surprise for the kids as former Ohio State and NFL running back Antonio Pittman took time to pass around the football with the kids and give them insight on how to overcome adversity in chasing their dreams.
“Having Antonio Pittman visit us was awesome,” Cates said. “Any time you can get a guy who has accomplished the things he has at Ohio State and at the NFL level, it gives you chills. For him to take time out of his day and spend it with our kids, that says a lot about the type of guy he is. Hopefully the kids took his message to heart because it was a message about life as much as it was about football.”
On Friday, Cates and his coaching staff focused on BuccFest, which he hopes becomes and annual event.
“Hopefully we can do this every year,” Cates emphasized. “I think it went well, despite the rain we had. I know the kids had fun and I think the alumni guys had fun.”
Alumni football players were invited back to compete in several skills competitions against the current high school players and then an alumni football game.
What materialized was several alumni won the skills competitions against the high school kids and the alumni game was an overtime triller ending in a 24-21 score.
“Wow, there was a lot of great athletes out there,” said Cates of the Buccaneer alumni. “I played against Gene Studebaker when I was in high school at Arcanum and he’s still amazing. Justin Williams was unbelievable too. All of the alumni guys were awesome. It just shows why Covington has been good for so long.”
Justin Williams, a 2014 graduate won the passing competition thanks to hitting a target from 50 yards away for 100 points. He also won the Most Valuable Player award in the alumni football game.
2015 graduate Robert Gengler won the lineman challenge, while 2017 graduate Deron White won the kicking contest.
The lone contest won by a current Buccaneer player was by sophomore Gage Kerrigan, who won the punting competition with a punt of 53 yards.
Then, in the alumni football game, 1993 graduate Rob Jacquemin and 2000 graduate Marty Finfrock were chosen captains and picked teams out of the remaining alumni.
And the teams were picked very evenly as the score was tied 14-14 at the end of four 12-minute quarters.
Both teams then received the ball at the ten with four chances to score – which materialized as the game went into double-overtime tied at 21-21 and was decided by a 30-yard field goal attempt by chosen kickers for each team.
2017 Covington graduate Deron White made good on his attempt from 30 yards away, while fellow 2017 graduate Adam Lefeld’s attempt was just off the mark to the left to end the contest with a 24-21 score.
“We didn’t have a plan for overtime because we didn’t really think about it, so we made up the rules as we went along,” chuckled Cates. “But I think it was exciting for everybody. The alumni game turned out to be a great game and I think our kids (the current players) really had a lot of fun with it. They were coaching and cheering the alumni guys the whole way and celebrated with them at the end. It was a great night to be a Bucc.”
Which is what BuccFest is all about.