• Braden Gover covers the ball while picking up some yards during the Chargers' 42-0 win over Millington Friday night. Photo by Jeff Ireland

Considering Covington beat Millington 44-0 two and a half months ago, you couldn’t blame the Chargers if they were a little overconfident heading into Friday night’s rematch in the second round of the Class 3A state playoffs.

Early on, thanks primarily to a couple of Covington turnovers, it looked like maybe Covington was taking its opponent too lightly as Millington stayed within striking distance.

In the end, however, the final result was very similar to the game in September. Covington used a balanced offense and lights-out defense to beat Millington 42-0 at home and move on to the state quarterfinals to play another team (Dyersburg) it routed in the regular season.


“We preached it all week,” Covington coach J.R. Kirby said when asked about the challenge of playing a team you routed earlier in the season. “You can’t listen to the outside noise. You just have to go to work. They are a bunch of 15-, 16-, 17-, 18-year olds so you have to keep reminding them.”

“We beat them in the past but you still have to come out and play ball,” said senior linebacker Kydric Mason. “When we’re playing a team we already played, you just have to act like you’re playing a whole new team. You can’t have the attitude that you already beat them so you’re going to beat them again.”

Covington (10-2) began to take control of the game when Braden Gover hit Dorian Robinson for a 14-yard touchdown to give the Chargers a 14-0 lead with 9:021 left in the first half.

Following a Millington (7-5) three-and-out, Gover struck again with a 29-yard TD run through the center of the Millington defense to make it 21-0.

Milington had a few high moments on offense, but the Trojans never threatened to score thanks to a stingy Covington defense.

“Defensively, I thought we played great,” Kirby said. “I was very proud of our guys and our staff.”

Covington left no doubt who was moving on to the quarterfinals when Skylan Smith broke a 42-yard TD run in the third quarter and scored from the two midway through the fourth. Jamarion Dowell got Covington’s scoring started with a 21-yard run in the first quarter and added a 13-yarder for a TD in the fourth.

As has been the case the last few weeks, Dowell and Smith proved to be a formidable one-two punch. Dowell, a Mr. Football semifinalist, rushed for 123 yards on 11 carries and Smith added 108 yards on 13 carries.

Gover rushed for 43 yards and completed 7 of 9 passes for 68 yards.

Covington lined up with Gover under center and in the shotgun, a bit of a departure from Covington’s traditional style.

“Mixing it up was a good thing for us,” Kirby said. “We’re going to need to do that moving forward.”

When the Chagers host Dyersburg Friday night, they will be looking to do something they haven’t done since 2019: make the semifinals.

“We’re back in the quarterfinals for the second straight season and we have 10 wins again,” Kirby said. “We were in this spot last year and lost a heartbreaker (to Dyersburg). Hopefully we can punch that ticket back to the semifinals again like we did in ’19 and have a chance to go play for one.”

Jeff Ireland
Author: Jeff Ireland