Twelve seconds into the second half of Friday night’s Brighton-Covington showdown, the Charger coaching staff was scrambling to find some pickle juice to treat a cramping running back and head coach J.R. Kirby was firmly scolding (okay, screaming at) a player who drew a flag for getting on the field during a play.
If it sounds like things were going poorly for Covington, well, they weren’t.
Jamarion Dowell was writhing in pain, but he had just run 80 yards for a touchdown on the first play of the second half to give Covington a 58-22 lead to activate a running clock. The player who got on the field during Dowell’s touchdown run was taking his vocal criticism admirably and the get-back coach made everybody scoot back to the track.
All was good in Charger Nation.
Entering the game in Covington, Brighton (3-1) and Covington (4-0) were ranked first and second, respectively, in the Shelby-Metro area in total offense and rushing offense. Brighton was averaging 547 yards per game and Covington 499. Something had to give, and something did.
The Charger defense slowed down Brighton’s offense, holding it to 226 yards. Covington’s offense kept rolling with 452 total yards, including an astounding 415 on the ground.
“They did a really good job offensively,” Brighton head coach Mike David said about Covington. “Full house (formation) teams are extremely tough to stop. They do an incredible job running that. You really have to change a lot of what you do that week to prepare for it. You prepare all summer for all kinds of stuff, but not for that.”
“I thought our kids played extremely well overall,” Kirby said. “Defensively we had to make some adjustments because we knew they were better than they’ve been. Coach David does a great job. We knew it was going to be a challenge defensively, but offensively we figured we could move the ball and score some points. We really didn’t know how they were going to play us. They made us adjust and we did.”
Covington scored touchdowns on its first seven possessions of the first half and got a 39-yard field from Gabe Wellentin just before halftime to make the score 51-22.
Brighton tried to keep up. Braxton Sharp returned a kickoff 90 yards for a touchdown midway through the first quarter to stop the bleeding temporarily, Ty Stark had a nice game with 80 yards on nine carries and Nick Harvell found some success in the passing game and threw a 14-yard touchdown pass. Nevertheless, it was clear from the jump that Covington was the better team.
Covington, which beat Munford 41-8 in the season opener, has not lost to Brighton or Munford since 2016, and most of the games have not been competitive. The Chargers’ county dominance is even more impressive when you consider they are the smallest school in Tipton County and play two classifications below Brighton and Munford.
Following the game, a pair of Covington seniors were asked for their thoughts on winning another game against a county rival.
“Coming in, we just wanted to keep our heads up, play how we know we can play and be physical up front and let our backs to the rest,” Robert Dohnken said. “As you can tell on the scoreboard, that’s what we did.”
“They have a better team than what they normally have, but we have the best backs, in my opinion, and I’ll say it,” Chris Godwin said. “That makes our job a lot easier. Even when we mess up, they make us look good.”
There are still many more important games left on the schedule for both teams that will ultimately determine how successful each team’s seasons will be. Brighton hosts an undefeated Memphis Central team Friday in a key region game and Covington has league games with Ripley, Dyersburg and Bolivar over the next four weeks.
While Friday’s game had no postseason or league consequences, it reiterated one thing: Covington is the best team in Tipton County, and it’s not even close.