After missing the first two games of the season, CovCath senior Cameron Pitzer admits that he had been limited upon his return to the lineup while recovering from a foot injury. However, Saturday afternoon he looked fully healthy, and showed how much his presence means for the Colonels on both sides of the ball when he’s operating at full capacity.
Pitzer hauled in four passes for 95 yards and two touchdowns, and recorded a team-high six solo tackles in the Colonels’ 47-9 win over Grant County at Wooten Field in Park Hills. Sophomore running back Grant Dyer added 109 rushing yards and two TDs on 12 carries.
Pitzer, a linebacker, was CovCath’s top defensive player on last year’s team, but his strong play on offense was a new wrinkle for the Colonels.
“I definitely feel back to my full speed and athletic ability,” Pitzer said. “I started off trying to play both sides of the ball, but my foot started bothering me again so I had to stick to just defense for a few games. Over the bye week (last week) I started back on the offensive side of the ball.”
CovCath’s offense had a big day, pilling up 425 total yards with sophomore quarterback AJ Mayer completing 11-of-21 passes for 184 yards with two touchdowns and an interception, but Grant County put a scare into Colonel fans to start the game.
The Braves forced a turnover on downs at the their own 36 on CovCath’s opening drive, and then senior quarterback Joseph Knipp hit classmate Blake Johnson down the left sideline for a 54-yard gain to setup a 5-yard touchdown pass to Johnson a few plays later. A missed extra point left Grant County’s lead at 6-0 with 7:30 to play in the first quarter.
The Colonels answered back on their ensuing possession. Mayer hit Pitzer for a 52-yard gain to move CovCath into scoring position, and then Dyer bullied his way into the endzone from 8 yards out. Junior Matthew Kloska’s kick gave his team a 7-6 lead midway through the first.
“(Grant County) made some plays,” CovCath coach Eddie Eviston said. “A Coach Siple team is going to have a couple threats and make some plays, and that’s what they did on that opening drive. I was glad the way we responded and how we were able to kind of shut them down after that.”
CovCath’s defense took over from there. Junior Matthew Thiel picked off Knipp on the fifth play of Grant County’s next drive to setup the Colonels’ second touchdown – a 32-yard strike from Mayer to Pitzer. Then early in the second quarter, sophomore defensive linemen Kameron Butler made a leaping interception on a Grant County screen pass and returned it 34 yards to the Braves’ 13. Dyer scored from 6 yards out, and Ryan McGinness’ two-point conversion run made it 21-6 with 8:01 left in the first half.
“I saw the (screen) developing from the beginning,” Butler said of his interception. “I had been repping it in practice all week, so I just made the most of it. I used to play running back, so I’m used to carrying the football.”
Butler was a standout on defense for the Colonels, finishing the game with four tackles and two sacks to go with his interception.
“(Kameron) is a tremendous talent with a lot of potential,” Eviston said. “He’s done a lot of things at a young age already. He needs to continue to be consistent, but he had a heck of a ballgame today.”
Senior defensive back Adam Piccirillo also had an interception for the Colonels, giving them three total, as they held the Braves to 0-for-5 on third down conversions with just 40 yards of offense in the second quarter.
CovCath played add-on before halftime with a 4-yard touchdown run by McGinness and a 1-yard TD by junior Anthony Best.
Grant County scored its final points on a 33-yard field goal by junior Austin Smith to make the halftime score 34-9 after Knipp intercepted Mayer with under a minute to play.
Mayer was intercepted again on his first possession of the second half, but bounced back by hitting Pitzer for a 4-yard touchdown to cap a seven-play, 59-yard drive with 3:58 to play in the third quarter. He then used a stiff-arm to breakaway from the defense for a 66-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter that set the running clock rule into effect with 10:12 to play.
Despite getting off to a 1-5 start, CovCath is excited about the opportunity that lies ahead. With Saturday’s win, the Colonels sit at 1-0 in the district with two games coming up against district foes Highlands and Dixie.
“The most important thing is district play,” Pitzer said. “We’re definitely excited we started out 1-0 and have the chance to go undefeated in the district. Hopefully we continue on into the state playoffs and win a state championship. That’s still our ultimate goal.”
Grant County – 6 3 0 0 – 9
CovCath – 13 21 6 7 – 47
G – Johnson 5 pass from Knipp (Kick failed)
C – Dyer 8 run (Kloska kick)
C – Pitzer 32 pass from Mayer (Kick failed)
C – Dyer 6 run (McGinness run)
C – McGinness 4 run (Kloska kick)
C – Best 1 run (Kick failed)
G – Smith 33 field goal
C – Pitzer 4 pass from Mayer (Kick failed)
C – Mayer 66 run (Kloska kick)
Records: C 2-5, G 3-4