By Rob Kiser
COVINGTON — It was the renewal of a long time rivalry Friday night when the Covington football traveled to Bradford for a Cross County Conference matchup.
The two schools hadn’t played since 2013 and Covington came in with a 55-11-3 lead in the series.
And while an outmanned Bradford team played hard to the final whistle, Covington was sharp from the start and just too talented for the Railroaders in a 63-0 victory that was the 499th in the Buccs’ program’s history.
“We have just been making too many mental mistakes,” Covington coach Ty Cates about a Covington team that improved to 3-5 overall and 3-3 in CCC play while Bradford dropped to 0-8 overall and 0-6 in CCC play. “We didn’t want to overlook them, but with our record, we don’t have the right to overlook anybody.
“You know, our three losses in the conference are coin flip (could have gone either way). It hasn’t been the season we wanted, but I am really proud of the way the kids came out and played tonight.”
Covington had it all working from the start.
After Ethan Herron’s 33-yard punt return on the opening kickoff to set Covington up at the Bradford 42, it took the Buccs just seven plays to find the end zone.
Gage Kerrigan ran it in from 20 yards out on a third-and-three and Herron’s PAT kick made it 7-0.
After a Bradford three-and-out, Covington went 60 yards in three plays.
Quarterback Cade Schmelzer hooked up with Andrew Cates for a 19-yard gain, setting up a 40-yard TD run by Herron — who would finish with 152 yards on seven carries — and it was 14-0.
After another Roader three-and-out, Schmelzer had a 16-yard pass to Zach Parrett and a 12-yard pass to Bradley Wiggins, before Herron raced 53 yards for another score to make it 21-0.
A 35-yard pass from Schmelzer to Parrett on Covington’s next possession set up a 6-yard TD pass from Schmelzer to Bates to make it 28-0.
A botched punt attempt by Bradford set Covington up on the Railroaders six and a six-yard TD pass from Schmelzer to Parrett on the first play made it 35-0.
Schmelzer then ran 34 yards to make it 42-0 early in the second quarter.
Covington followed with a two-play, 11-yard drive.
After Brayden Wiggins return an interception to the 11, he ran for nine yards and then the final two for the score.
A Bates interception set up the final score of the first half,with Herron running 43 yards for the score to make it 56-0.
“Sometimes, we make this game more complicated than it is,” Bates said. “Our quarterback made good decisions, our backs ran hard and our offensive line blocked.”
Covington’s final score was a 24-yard pass from Schmelzer to Bradley Wiggins in the third quarter, making the final 63-0.
While Bradford played hard, the Covington defense held the Railroaders to minus-one yard and two first downs in the opening half and finished off the shutout in the second half.
“I am really proud of my defense to come in here and get a shutout,” Cates said. “We got everybody into the game tonight and everybody played hard.”
Now, the Buccs have a chance to make program history when they go for win 500 when they host Twin Valley South Friday night.
“I didn’t even know about that until a couple days ago,” Cates said. “I just feel so fortunate to be part of a program that has a chance to do something like that. What a great opportunity for the kids. I just want the seniors to be able to go out on a high note, even though it hasn’t been the season we hoped it would be.”
And it started with a convincing win over a longtime rival Friday night.
Rob Kiser is Sports Editor for the Daily Call. He can be reached at (937) 451-3334.