August 25, 2011
The revolving door of Covenant coaches stops this season with Dave Rocco, the team's third head coach in three years, and one the Eagles are excited about.
"I would definitely say it's the most optimistic I've been for a Covenant football team in the years that I've been here", said senior Luke Benes.
Fellow seniors Clark Crutchfield and Michael Estep agree that Coach Rocco is the perfect fit.
"A lot of us weren't sure what kind of coach we were gonna get since it was on such short notice," said Estep, a wide receiver and defensive back. "I'm pretty sure the entire team, it's unanimous everyone really likes Coach Rocco, he works hard and obviously really knows the sport."
"I've never really met a guy like him before, that's all about football, said the center Crutchfield. "It's just amazing what he's done so far and he's definitely gonna help this program."
After a 1-9 season under Dandridge Payne in 2010, Coach Rocco's challenge starts with a young and inexperienced roster. The Eagles return just a handful of varsity players, but Rocco says he's already impressed by the trio of seniors and their willingness to step up.
"Because of their leadership so far at this point, I think it's really gonna help these younger kids grow up and be the type of leaders that they exemplify."
Covenant lost its top three offensive performers including three-year starting quarterback Lee Coppock who passed for 1550 yards and 17 touchdowns in 2010. Running back Chris Shifflett (931yds, 7 TD) is also gone to graduation, while wideout Sam Patterson (620 yds, 7 TD) will play his senior year at Monticello.
Since advancing to the VISAA championship game in 2008, Covenant has won just four games in two seasons and is looking for vast improvement in 2011.
"We're gonna be able to compete against any opponent that we face," said Rocco. "And be very competitive whether we win the game or not."
"We had a tough season last year as everyone knows so it's kind of a big thing to just get this season together and underway, and play well and have a good time" said Estep. "It's nice to have a coach that wants to do the same."