‘Covey’ making amends
Everyone deserves a second chance. In this instance, Washington senior linebacker Garrett Convington is making the most of his opportunity to restore faith among fans, coaches and teammates.
For a player with realistic aspirations of making first-team all-State after making second team last year and being selected for the preseason Iowa Preps first team, the offseason couldn’t have gone worse.
“One of my friend’s brothers asked if I wanted to have a beer,” Covington said. “ I said, ‘sure.’ I didn’t think I was going anywhere. We were going to be safe. He ended up taking me home later and I was asleep in the car. I woke up to lights behind me.”
Covington had just turned 18 and once head coach Randy Schrader got wind of his drinking, he was suspended for the first two games of the season, which was consistent with the team’s conduct policy.
Coming into this season he was expected to be the team’s top ball hawk. As a junior Covington led the team in tackles with 102. During his suspension, the team suffered its only loss of the season, 14-7 against Pella, Sept. 6.
The Dutch posted 319 rushing yards.
“Against Pella, we did have that experience out there and they ran all over us,” Covington said. “Since I have come back, no one has even come close to running all over us.”
Since his return to the starting lineup, Washington has gone 5-0. Covington has been a catalyst for the defense that has allowed an average of 60 rushing yards during that stretch.
“He is a sideline-to-sideline football player,” Schrader said. “A lot of stuff on the edge, he is able to run it down. We are a little bit different defense when Garrett is in the football game. His speed and tenacity brings a lot to the game. You can’t take a second team all-State kid out of your defense and think you will be just as good. He is definitely very physical.”
Linebacker is often regarded as the heart of the defense and gives Covington the freedom to provide coverage or go after the quarterback.
“It makes them throw the ball more and panic,” Covington said. “I pressure the ball if I’m blitzing. If I don’t blitz I still pressure the ball. The glory of being the bad kid (at linebacker), it takes a lot to do what you do. Kids idolize your mental (toughness) and how physical you are.”
With Covington at 5-foot-9, 175 pounds and fellow linebacker Tanner Knupp, who is even smaller at 5-foot-8, 165 pounds, Washington has found the speed and power it needs on defense.
“What people say about me and Tanner — you are going to love us or hate us,” Covington said. “We have the mentality to be the (most) loving guy in the world. When it is time to go to work it doesn’t matter. We have that click in our head. If we all had that, we would be really good — the killer instinct, the eye of the tiger.”
Both players lead the team in tackles with 66 each and have a combined 27 tackles for a loss and 10 combined sacks.
Covington saw time in the backfield last year but has been used less this year as a backup. His favorite player in the NFL lines up at that position.
“(Minnesota running back) Adrian Peterson is my idol,” Covington said. “He is one of the best running backs to ever play in the league. That is why I wear 28.”
Covington has arguably the highest energy level during games and enjoys practice just as much as he enjoys the game, according to Schrader.
“(Teammates) all think I’m insane,” Covington said. “They think I’m a great guy outside of football. I’m just trying to make everyone better.”
While Covington served his suspension, he missed the games against Mid-Prairie and Pella, one of which he may get to play against in the postseason.
“I’ll never get to play Mid-Prairie again,” Covington said. “I pretty much play every game like it’s my last. Every game is a championship. If I was to play against Mid-Prairie, that is my championship; Williamsburg, that is my championship. I take it seriously and leave nothing on the field. I will see Pella again.”