If Covington fans who made the trip to Ripley Friday night were experiencing some deja vu, that would make perfect sense.
Just like in five of six games this season, the Chargers ran the ball at will, hit some big passing plays, played lights-out defense and raced to an insurmountable halftime lead against a clearly overmatched opponent.
The result was a 47-14 win that ran Covington’s record to 6-0 with a huge region game against Milan coming up this Friday.
“I thought we probably executed offensively the best we have all year long, not many mistakes up front and not many mistakes by the quarterback,” Covington head coach J.R. Kirby said. “I was very, very pleased with how we played offensively.”
Covington, which is averaging a Shelby-Metro-best 316 rushing yards per game, ran for 390 against Ripley (2-2). Carson Ruffin completed all three of his passes for 143 yards and three touchdowns, both season highs, giving the Chargers 533 yards of total offense.
The lone highlight for Ripley came when Corterrion Moore broke a 47-yard TD run early in the third quarter to cut the lead to 33-7.
“We did not tackle as well as we had the previous three games,” Kirby said. “Maybe it’s good that we got this out of our system now before playing Milan. Overall, we played pretty well, pretty physical. Some kids were disappointed because we gave up that big run and we pride ourselves on defense here.”
Covington responded to Moore’s long run when Ruffin hit Dalton Dickerson on a 47-yard TD pass. Eumorrion Flowers scored later in the third on a two-yard run to push the lead to 47-7.
Jamarion Dowell, who led Covington with 151 yards on 10 carries, got the Chargers on the board with a 47-yard TD run in the first quarter. Marcus Hayes (127 yards, 12 carries) scored on a two-yard run moments later to push the lead to 14-0.
Ruffin found a streaking Dickerson for a 49-yard TD pass early in the second quarter, which was followed by a three-yard TD run by Flowers (70 yards 21 carries).
Just before halftime Ruffin hit Hayes on a crossing pattern that turned into a 47-yard touchdown.
“We played extremely well on the road in a game that it would have been really easy to look past,” Kirby said. “I was proud of our kids for executing and coming away with a win.”
The level of competition will increase dramatically this Friday when Milan comes to town for a very important Region 7-3A game.
Covington is ranked second in the Class 3A AP state poll and Milan (4-1) is ranked seventh. Both teams are 2-0 in the region, but Milan has already beaten South Gibson, which is generally considered to be the third-best team in the region. Covington plays South Gibson on Oct. 16.
“This is the best Covington team they’ve had in over a decade,” Milan coach Carl Diffee said. “This is going to be a big boy-type of football game. They play a very physical style of football and if we don’t come out and establish that we can be physical, too, it’s going to be a long night for us.”
“I can”t believe he said this is the best team we’ve had in a decade” Kirby said when informed of Diffee’s statement. “Three (Covington) teams this decade have gone to the state finals and we haven’t done that. Do we have a really good team? Yeah. Do they have a really good team? Yeah. I think we’re very similar, carbon copies of each other, to be honest with you. They want to run the football and throw it when they want to. We want to run the football and throw it when we want to. Both defenses are really, really good.”
Milan beat Covington 14-7 last season in Milan. Covington’s Myles Stark returned the opening kickoff for a touchdown, but the Chargers did not score again. Covington’s offense drove inside the Milan 10 in the final seconds before being stopped on fourth down.
“I expect a hard-hitting football game. I expect a very physical football game. If the defenses show up I expect it will be low-scoring again and come down to the team that makes the least mistakes,” Kirby said. “We were banged up a lot last year and trying to find our identity. That’s not going to be the case this year. There are no excuses. They flat out beat us last year. We’ve had some classics with them the last few years in the playoffs and the regular season so I expect this to be another one. Both teams understand what’s riding on this game.”