By Ben Robinson
COVINGTON — It was Hall of Fame Night at Covington’s Smith Field on Friday with the induction of 2007 graduates Gene Studebaker and Meredith Tobias-Kanet for their outstanding athletic athletic careers and Jack Schwamberger for his 29 years of coaching in the sports of wrestling, football, baseball and track.
Unfortunately, the Covington Buccaneers found so many ways to beat themselves against a Minster team who is coming off of a state finals appearance a year ago. The end result was a 28-0 defeat – the first regular season shutout loss since Mississinawa Valley defeated Covington 20-0 on October 8, 2004.
The defeat also drops Covington to 0-2 for the first time since 1991.
But, this team isn’t the 1991 team that finished 1-9 or the 2004 team that finished 5-5 and was the last Covington team to fail to qualify for the state playoffs.
This Covington team is talented – yet very young and playing a tought schedule early in the season.
“We’re going to be fine,” said Covington coach Tyler Cates. “We played another great team tonight in Minster and made too many mistakes to give ourselves a chance to win. We had way too many penalties, too many turnovers and too many dropped passes to beat a team like Minster.”
There has been growing pains for a talented group of sophomores and freshmen who have been thrust into varsity rolls early in the season, but many of the mistakes on this night were made by the seniors.
Twice in the first half the Buccaneers were in scoring position inside the Minster twenty, but motion penalties by seniors stalled the drives.
“It’s a lack of focus and a lot of that is on the seniors,” Cates said. “We moved the ball, but killed ourselves with stupid penalties.”
With arguably the best all-around athlete Covington will see all year running the show behind center for Minster, those mistakes turned into opportunities for senior quarterback Jared Huelsman and the Wildcat offense.
“Their quarterback is a stud,” praised Cates of Huelsman, who rushed for 100 yards on 17 carries for the Wildcats.
Minster struck first with a one-yard run by Isaac Schmiesing and then pushed the lead to 14-0 midway through the second quarter with a 7-yard run by Alex Schmitmeyer.
Huelsman then took matters into his own hands by scoring on a 22-yard run to give the Wildcats a 21-0 lead at the break.
Meanwhile, Covington turned the ball over twice in the first half, once on an interception while in scoring range and then via a fumble at midfield.
“We gave them short fields to work with on the turnovers,” Cates said. “That puts your defense in a bind.”
Covington’s defense put together a solid effort all night, but the second half performance by the defense gives the Buccaneers plenty to build on as it kept the high-powered Wildcat offense out of the end zone throughout the entire second half.
Unfortunately, a Minster punt pinned the Buccaneers deep in their own territory and another illegal motion penalty forced Covington to attempt a punt from its own goal line. Minster brought the house and was able to block the punt and recover the ball in the end zone to push its lead to 28-0.
To make matters worse for Covington, it had two second half dropped passes by wide open receivers in the end zone to prevent potential scores.
“When you look at it, we had the turnovers, all of those penalties and then those dropped passes. It’s tough to beat a good team with those type of mistakes,” Cates said. “We are right there, but we can’t keep shooting ourselves in the foot.”
In all, Covington outgained Minster with 248 total yards to 222, but much of that was due to the Wildcats enjoying short fields from the four Buccaneer turnovers.
“Like I told the kids, we are right there if we minimize our mistakes,” said Cates. “That’s a really good football team who will probably make a deep run in the state playoffs again and we did some nice things against them. The difference was they didn’t beat themselves and that’s why they are a good football team.”
In the grand scheme of things, Covington is two games into the season and the sky isn’t falling despite the 0-2 start.
That’s because the talent and effort from the Buccaneer roster is there. It’s all about minimizing the mistakes.