Cov Cath Football to Clash with Cincinnati Moeller
When Covington Catholic crosses the bridge on Friday to take on Cincinnati's Moeller, it will be the eleventh time the two schools have met. Moeller has won nine straight in the series. Cov Cath head coach Dave Wirth remembers the first meeting in 1992 when he was a student at Moeller.
“I played in the very first Moeller/Cov Cath game back in 1992, so I am familiar with the series and results and that stuff really doesn't bother us much,” he said.
Wirth has plenty of respect for the Moeller program, but he runs his own ship his own way.
“The four years I played there and the six years that I spent coaching at Moeller were very formative for me. A lot of who I am and what I do are attributed to those years and those experiences, but we don't try and emulate them other than the good things that they do. We try and take what's good from all of our opponents and emulate it, to be honest with you.”
If anything, other teams should be emulating him. His team this year is off to a roaring start, scoring 80 points and allowing just 13 in only six quarters of play thus far in 2014. Starting quarterback Adam Wagner has roasted opposing defenses through the air with nearly 400 yards passing and seven touchdowns. Wide receivers Lee McClure and Logan McDowell have been the beneficiaries of Wagner's impressive stats, each racking up over 100 yards receiving and multiple touchdown passes.
There remains, however, the quest for balance that all coaches have in mind when forming their plan of offensive attack. Currently, the Colonels have been pass heavy, but Wirth insists his team will adjust to whatever defense is thrown at them.
“If the defense is giving us an easy box, then we're going to run the ball like crazy,” Wirth said. “If the defense is pretty heavy in the box and wants to take away our run game, especially our quarterback run game, then we're going to make them pay on the perimeter and that's kind of what we've seen so far.”
How Moeller decides to defend the Colonels remains to be seen, but what Covington Catholic can expect from the Crusaders is the shear girth their players possess. Whether they go with their passing attack or switch it up on the ground, either way, the big fellas along the Colonel offensive line will have their hands full with the large players that will line up across from them.
“They are absolutely gargantuan up front on both sides. They have Division-I players across the board,” Wirth said of Moeller. “But it's not like we have a small offensive line, we're just not as gigantic as they are. We've got a couple monsters, but for every big guy that we have, they have two. So that adds up.”
So far, the schedule has been kind to them as they have faced two teams they are familiar with and have beaten regularly in recent years in Boone County and Dixie Heights, but Moeller is of a different caliber. They are the reigning Division-I Ohio state champions for that past two seasons and came out victorious in their first game of the season last week against Pickerington North, 21-6. An area the Colonels feel they may have an advantage, though, is on special teams and they look for their return game as a team strength. Because of this strength, however, teams may try to avoid kicking to them much at all.
“People are going to be cautious about kicking and punting to us based on the guys we have returning. I think we have to find a way to help our selves in the return game, especially after last week because I don't think everybody is going to be kicking it deep to us,” Wirth said.
Last week, the Colonels ran out to an early lead after back-to-back punt returns for touchdowns in the first quarter, one by McClure and the other from McDowell.
Covington Catholic still has games at Highlands and against Beechwood at home remaining on its schedule—both very stout teams with excellent programs—but in terms of challenges, this week's test may be the toughest of them all.
“I think the players look at this game as a big challenge. Certainly when you go play a team like Moeller with the tradition they have and the numbers that they have, it's a challenge, but our guys use these games as motivation to get better and prepare themselves for the long haul,” Wirth said. “It would be hard pressed to play a better team after this week, that's for sure."
Written by Bryan Burke, associate editor
Photo: Covington Catholic Football Team/RCN