BY GREG FLINT
COVINGTON, Ind. —
The game the Covington football team played against Riverton Parke was exactly what they needed.
The Trojans defeated the Panthers by the score of 54-24, but it was neither the win nor even the margin that was important.
No, it was how they won – by taking advantage of the opportunities they had throughout the course of the game.
“We haven’t done much of that this season,” said Trojan head coach Travis Brown about converting opportunities into points. “We’ve had chances in other games, but tonight we got some and this time we did it.”
It started when Riverton Parke opened the game with a three-and-out. Covington blocked the punt that followed and took over on the Panther six-yard line. Three plays later, Gage Hegg scored and James Foley kicked the extra point for a 7-0 lead.
The second Panther possession was two plays ending in a fumble that Coty Coon recovered. Once again, the Trojans took only a few plays before Hegg scored his second touchdown in less than three minutes.
It got worse for Riverton Parke on their next possession as Alex Frechette of Covington picked off a pass and ran it back 35 yards for a score. The extra point made it 21-0 with more than half of the first quarter still to play.
“One of our goals was to get a defensive score tonight,” said Brown. “So that was one goal we reached.”
The Panthers finally cracked the scoreboard ice when they kicked a 38-yard field goal to make it 21-3.
Covington then added a touchdown, but Riverton Parke came right back with one of their own although the Trojans blocked the extra point to make it 27-9.
The lead eventually grew to 47-9 and Brown granted a wish to one of his players.
Dalton Hardy had played fullback as a freshman but then moved to the line for the rest of his career. He said he wanted to get one carry his senior year and Brown let him have two.
The first, from the Riverton Parke 12-yard line gained seven yards. His second carry picked up the rest to put Covington on top 54-9 after the extra point.
“It was a wish come true,” said Hardy of his carries. “I hadn’t carried since a couple times my sophomore year and I really want it. Coach said ‘Okay, but not again’. That’s fine with me – I got my wish.”
Brown said he wished he had Hardy for another year and was glad to have given him the runs, and then added, “But no more.”
Riverton Parke should get credit for never giving up. The Panthers, with only about 20 players on the team have been wracked by injuries.
According to one of their staff, the team lost its starting quarterback in game three; its starting center after that and have had players who have played as many as five positions this season alone.
The team showed flashes as they made some good runs or completed some passes, but their youth and inexperience also was visible. Some of their mistakes led to the early Trojan scores, but the team persevered.
They ran a pitch play to Cody Hutsell for an 85-yard TD run and then had quarterback Kalib McBride find Dale Laznik in the end zone for another to make the final score 54-24.
Brown said his team changed some things they did this past week in preparation for the game.
“I really think it helped,” he said. “We were much more focused out there than we’ve been the past few weeks.”
He closed, saying, “We’ll enjoy this tonight then come back Saturday to work on things. We’ve got a tough week ahead.”
The Trojans open sectional play next week, hosting the WRC champion North Vermillion Falcons.