By Ben Robinson
COVINGTON — Just four days earlier the Covington Buccaneers put forth an up-and-down performance against Milton Union in the first full contact scrimmage on Tuesday and Saturday the Buccs were looking to see how far they’ve come with just a few days to correct mistakes.
And what materialized in the second full contact scrimmage in preparation for the 2017 season was a much more consistent effort against Eaton — although there were still many areas in need of improvement.
First, the main negative for the Buccaneers was the issue of too many penalties. Penalties that happen through aggressiveness are understandable and in a sense, acceptable – but Covington had way too many pre-snap penalties due to a lack of focus.
Twice penalties killed potential scoring opportunities after the Buccaneer defense forced turnovers on the Eaton side of the field.
Another negative for the Buccaneers was a defensive lapse in the one half of game situation action where the defense missed several tackles to allow an Eaton receiver to turn a short catch into a long touchdown. The Buccaneers were in position to make the play, but several players either over pursued or flat out whiffed on attempted tackles – making it easy on the Eaton player to find a seem through the defense to the end zone.
The positives? Well, there were many on a day an overall youthful Buccaneer team can build on.
First, the Buccs scored twice in ten plays in the red zone situation by executing in both the run game and through the air.
The Buccs then followed with a fast start in the first of two quarters of the game situation, with a twelve-minute game clock and a 25-second play clock.
Senior Ethan Herron started things off with a 78-yard scoring run on the second play and then the defense forced Eaton to a three-and-out on its opening possession.
The Buccs followed with a beautifully executed drive and capped the effort with a touchdown strike from sophomore quarterback Cade Schmelzer to sophomore slot back Andrew Cates to put the Buccs up 14-0.
The Buccaneer defense continued its relentless effort by forcing an interception on the ensuing possession to give the offense the ball at the Eaton 35.
With an opportunity to blow the scrimmage wide open early, the Buccaneers began beating themselves with mistakes – first with an illegal high-low cut block and then with another illegal block on a Buccaneer back.
It forced Covington to punt as the first or two quarters came to a close.
Still, the Buccaneer defense was up to the task as it forced a fumble a few plays later and recovered just 30 yards from the goal line.
But once again, penalties moved Covington back – forcing another punt as the second quarter was nearly halfway over.
Coach Cates and his staff elected to mix in a rotation on defense to give his younger kids as many repetitions as possible and Eaton was able to capitalize on the lone defensive laps by the Buccaneers throughout the entire scrimmage with a short pass that resulted in a touchdown with just under 2:00 left in the scrimmage.
Not wanting to end the scrimmage on a negative, the Buccaneer offense came to life once again in the two-minute drill as Cade Schmelzer engineered an eighty-yard drive capped by a pretty pass to senior Ty Freeman – who made an even prettier catch at the other end with an Eaton defender in perfect position to make a play on the ball. Freeman somehow was able to fight through the outstretched hands of the Eaton defender and tip the ball to himself for the score.
In all, it was a successful outing for the Buccaneers as they took a huge step forward in preparation for the season opener at St. Henry two weeks from now.
The Buccs will review the film and work to correct fundamental and mental mistakes before closing out their season preparation at Anna next Friday in the annual Jamboree.