When Munford hosted Covington in last year’s season opener, things were competitive for a while.
The Cougars took advantage of an early Charger turnover and took an 8-7 lead in the first quarter. The game was competitive into the second half before Covington won comfortably, 41-8.
As for the three games before that? They were basically over by halftime. The last time Munford beat Covington was 2017, when this year’s seniors were in middle school.
The buzz, particularly in the south end of the county, is that this game will be more competitive. The fact that Munford returns all-region quarterback Jordan Bell and added former Brighton running back Braxton Sharp are solid reasons to believe that idea.
For those believing this will be another Covington blowout win, there are these facts: Covington returns Mr. Football semifinalist Jamarion Dowell, highly-recruited safety A.C. Mason-Young and four starting offensive linemen.
“It should be a better game than most people think,” Covington coach J.R. Kirby said. “Most people think we can just roll out there and blow them out. I hope that’s the case, but we’re not stupid. I know they’re better and they do a great job down there … It should be a good football game.”
Covington’s offense presents a unique challenge for Munford’s defense, which is young this season. The Chargers deploy a wing-T/option offense that is uncommon in high school. These days, most teams run a spread. It has caused Munford major problems the last four seasons. Covington burned Munford for 468 rushing yards in last year’s game. Dowell, Mason-Young and Skylan Smith combined for 325 of those.
“I don’t really know anything about them,” Munford coach Slade Calhoun said. “I haven’t seen them. I just know they’re going to have a dozen guys who get off the bus who can run the ball. They’re going to have big physical guys up front. Covington has always been good and they’re always going to be good. That’s just how it goes.”
Calhoun also acknowledged that preparing for Covington’s offense is challenging because nobody else on their schedule uses it.
“We can’t sacrifice our whole season practicing all summer for some type of niche offense,” Calhoun said. “We’ve got to install what we’ve got to install to win the other nine games and win the region title.”
Kirby sees the game as a chance to see how his team competes against a team in larger classification. Covington competes in Class 3A while Munford is in 5A, the second-largest public school classification in the state.
“It will be a good measuring stick for us playing a bigger team,” Kirby said. “We play them and Brighton every year, two 5A teams.”
Covington’s other three non-region games are also against teams in larger classifications: Jackson North Side (4A), Hawyood (4A) and Dyer County (5A).
“Everyone one (on the schedule) outside of our region is bigger,” Kirby said. “How we play against them will tell me a lot about our team.”
As for the rivalry aspect of the game, both coaches acknowledged it’s a factor. Calhoun, however, said next week’s game against Millington is more important to a lot of people.
“My next game, to the people down here, is bigger. We’re trying to win a third straight region title. We’re breaking in a bunch of rookies on defense. We’ve got to beat Southwind, we have to beat Overton, we have to beat the team (Brighton) up the road. We have to beat Central. We’re trying to get in the playoffs. You can’t sell the farm for game one … With that said, we’re going to play hard and coach hard. We’re going to do everything within our power to win.”
“They’ve got a lot of confidence down there and they should,” Kirby said. “They have to come here and our kids will play with a lot of confidence on Thursday night. They’re ready for the game and they’re ready to get to work, so we’ll see.”
What: Covington vs. Munford
When: Thursday at 7 p.m.
Players to watch: Covington – RB Jamarion Dowell, DB Anthony Mason-Young, RB Skylan Smith, QB Braden Gover; Munford – QB Jordan Bell, WR Icarius Hodgin, RB – Braxton Sharp, WR – Isaiah Cobbs
One thing to know: Covington has beaten Munford four straight years and none of the games were close, with the Chargers outscoring the Cougars 172-28.
What: Brighton vs. St. Benedict
Where: St. Benedict
When: Friday at 7 p.m.
Players to watch: Brighton – QB Cade Crowson, RB Ty Stark, DB Keagan Jarmon
One thing to know: Brighton beat St. Benedict 38-0 last season
What: Tipton-Rosemark vs. Halls
When: Friday at 7 p.m.
Players to watch: Rosemark – QB Sam Cannon, WR Ellis Fullen, DB Aiden Petrowski
One thing to know: Rosemark beat Halls 47-0 last season.