By Ben Robinson
ARCANUM — A battle between two teams looking for huge computer points in hopes of qualifying for the state playoffs turned into a route as Covington knocked off previously unbeaten Arcanum, 57-0.
Which made for a sweet homecoming for Covington coach Tyler Cates, who had many memorable moments on Arcanum’s Booster Field as a player for Trojan coach Jason Schondelmyer. As a player, Cates was a senior on Arcanum’s last playoff team in 2005.
Friday, Cates had very memorable night as a head coach as his Buccaneers put together one of the most impressive performances in his fourth year at the helm – executing to near perfection in all phases of the game.
And the tone was established from the outset as Covington held Arcanum to a three-and-out on the game’s first possession and then took just five offensive plays to score as Buccaneer quarterback Cade Schmelzer found Andrew Cates open from 35 yards out to give Covington a 7-0 lead just 3:57 into the game.
Arcanum moved the ball into Covington territory on its second possession, but a huge sack by Trentin Alexander on a fourth-and-seven turned the ball over back to the Buccs at their own 45.
Covington then drove 55 yards in seven plays and capped the effort with a 20-yard scoring strike from Schmelzer to Kleyton Maschino to push the lead to 14-0 with 1:32 left in the opening frame.
The Covington defense, which was relentless all night, held Arcanum on its third possession and Dalton Weer was able to return a nice punt that appeared to flip the field to the Trojan 49 as the first quarter came to a close.
Two plays later Schmelzer found Cates again for what appeared to be a 45-yard touchdown pitch and catch, but a clipping penalty negated the score and forced Covington into punt formation facing a fourth-and-13.
But a heads-up play by Kleyton Machino followed as the senior saw an opportunity to attempt a fake, which worked to perfection as Maschino raced 43 yards to the Trojan ten. Two plays later Duncan Cooper powered his way in from two yards out to push Covington’s lead to 21-0 with just over a minute gone in the second.
Things went from bad to worse for Arcanum on its next offensive series as Brayden Wiggins stepped in front of a Trojan pass and raced 50 yards for the score and a 27-0 lead with 6:34 left in the half.
Arcanum went three-and-out on the ensuing possession thanks to a big hit in the backfield by Covington’s Duncan Cooper and the Buccaneers appeared to break the game open on the very first play after the punt as Schmelzer found Cates down the Trojan Sideline for the score. Unfortunately for Covington, the yellow flag came out and the touchdown was negated, which ultimately led to the Buccaneers’ first and only punt of the contest.
With the clock under two-minutes, the Trojans put together their most efficient drive of the game – advancing the ball from their own 29 to the Buccaneer 20. Unfortunately for Arcanum, time expired in the first half leaving the score 27-0 in favor of Covington at the break.
Covington received the ball to start the second half and picked up where it left off from the first half by going 65 yards on six plays for the score on a 26-yard touchdown pass from Schmelzer to Cates.
The Buccaneer defense then recorded a safety moments later as Duncan Cooper and Josh Latimer swarmed the Arcanum punter in the end zone.
Alex Shaffer followed with a 19-yard touchdown reception from Schmelzer to push Covington’s lead to 43-0 at the end of the third quarter.
With the game well in hand, Covington was looking to turn the game over to the second unit as the fourth quarter began, but faced a third-and-17 situation at its own nine to start the final frame. Trying to get a first down so the seconds could enter the game, Schmelzer hit Cates on a routine out pattern toward the Trojan sideline and in a blink of an eye Cates was running down the sideline virtually untouched for a 91-yard score.
The Buccaneer second unit followed with the final touchdown of the game as Bryce Weer scooted his way in on a three-yard run to make the final margin 57-0.
The win moves Covington to 6-2 overall and 5-1 in the CCC, while Arcanum drops to 7-1 and 5-1 in the league.
Regardless of the outcome, both teams remain in contention for the state playoffs with two games left in the regular season.