AUGUST 22, 2019
When BuccsFootball.com was launched in the summer of 2000, I really didn’t know what I was getting into. All I knew was I had an idea to create an online presence for Covington football, similar to the profile NFL teams had at the time.
The idea began shortly after I finished my military commitment with the United State Air Force in December of 1995. I enrolled into the School of Advertising Art and worked part time at the Troy Daily News thanks to some enticing from Chuck Lobaugh, who had a vision to start up a web department at the paper and wanted me to spearhead the design.
At the time I didn’t know anything about the web, but I quickly learned thanks to the team Lobaugh had assembled in the TDN web department. Soon, I had a vision of creating what I thought would be the first website for a high school sports team after seeing what the NFL was doing with its online presence.
The idea was that, just an idea - until I brought it up to Bob Huelsman, the former Covington athletic director and principal, in 2000. Huelsman, always a visionary, thought it was a good idea and gave me the green light to proceed as long as the school wasn’t responsible for any of the funding or maintenance of the website.
To help me get started Huelsman provided all of the historic data and images he had available on Covington football. Suddenly, the vision came to life through the initial design and launch of BuccsFootball.com just prior to the beginning of the 2000 season.
Covering games that first season was rough because I had a crappy old Canon film camera with a very slow lens. Ninety-percent of the action shots were blurry and out of focus when I would take the film to Meijer for processing immediately after the game. Still, I was able to get just enough images and content to post game coverage before the crack of dawn the next morning. Yes, every Friday night was an all-nighter in the early days.
Soon, word of the website spread and others began offering their services by season’s end. Hank Hitchcock, who had a much better camera than me, offered to provide action photos until I could save enough money to purchase my own photo equipment, which I was able to do prior to the 2001 season.
The website grew quickly thanks to local businesses who offered to help out through advertising - beginning with Al Hitchcock with Al’s BP. He was the first business owner to help the website grow and soon others followed.
Due to the popularity of the football website, soon websites for basketball, volleyball and wrestling followed. But I quickly realized the fees for hosting a website for each sport was too costly, which led to introduction of GoBuccs.com in 2004 - a website for all sports. Yes, BuccsFootball.com and BuccsWrestling.com still remain due to the volume of content on those websites, but all sports are now under the GoBuccs.com umbrella.
Over the past twenty years there have been more features added to the website thanks to those who have generously donated their time.
In 2005 Jim Meyer, Joe Schmidt and “Do-It-All” Jeff Shields began BuccsRadio, which provided live online radio broadcasts of football games where we could acquire a solid cell phone signal - which at the time was a challenge. BuccsRadio progressed with Andy Johnson, Kyle Moore, Martin Leistner, Dusty Yingst and Ashby Rench contributing. Soon, a weekly video segment was launched called BuccsWeekly.
Unfortunately, these elements added to the annual cost and in 2018 I had to make a tough decision to eliminate the weekly video segments and the live radio broadcasts. Hopefully one day these elements can be restored.
Still, it’s hard to believe it has been twenty years. There have been some great and funny memories over those years and here are some of my favorites.
- Logan Brown winning Covington’s first state wrestling championship in 2006 and then having the opportunity to cover him in four straight NCAA Wrestling Championships.
- Mike Molesky’s hit on Jason Bainum in the state playoffs in 2001 where the ball popped up ten feet into the air like a cork. It was the hardest hit I’ve ever seen at the high school level.
- Jordan Shaffer coming to the sideline during a torrential downpour in 2002, removing his cleats and socks and peeling a huge chunk on skin the size of a baseball off of the bottom of his foot and then going back into the game.
- Heather Fields getting under the skin of Dayton Jefferson in the 2004 state basketball tournament where Covington knocked off the top ranked team in the state. Earlier that week the Dayton Jefferson coach was on the radio saying how they were going to show the farm girls how basketball is suppose to be played.
- B.J. Barnes laughing like a hyena while driving a defender out of bounds and planting him flat on his back at the edge of the track at Smith Field in 2003.
- The best game I ever saw - the Buccs 30-28 come-from-behind win at Arcanum in 2005.
- Before the 2006 football season, Joe Schmidt and I were testing out some new equipment in the press box that would allow us to play previously recorded commercials and music during the BuccsRadio broadcasts. While testing the equipment, we started singing “Cool Change” by Little River Band at the top of our lungs with the headsets on. Really, we thought we sounded good through the headsets. Little did we know that the window in the back of the press box was open and when we took the headsets off the Band of Bucc Pride was behind the press box laughing at us.
- In 2006, Gene Studebaker came to the sideline with Covington down 26-7 to Tri-County North in the third quarter and asked coach Kevin Finfrock to, “Put the ball in my hands, coach - I got this” and then led the Buccs to a 36-32 win.
- In 2006, watching Michelle Meyer get “DRILLED” over and over again by Jackson Center and continuing to drive the ball to the basket without hesitation.
- In Dave Miller’s first year as head coach in 2007, Scooby Willoughby interrupted a pre-game speech to pump up the kids. Miller never got in a word once the Scoobinator got rolling.
- In 2010, Isaiah Winston breaking several tackles and weaving his way in for a touchdown and then coming to the sideline saying he ran like Michael Vick busting out of jail.
- Josh Shefbuch getting an overtime win in a wrestling dual at Versailles to lock up the Buccs’ 29-0 season in 2010.
- Chloe Shell pitching Covington to the state final four in 2011 with a broken bone in her throwing wrist.
- The three straight state final four appearance by the softball team in 2011, 2012 and 2013 under one of the best coaches I've seen, coach Dean Denlinger.
- The Buccs’ #1 Fan, Dennis “Scooby” Willoughby’s induction into the Covington Athletic Hall of Fame as an honorary member was memorable, especially when the “Scoobinator” had the microphone and talked about his father, who had passed away shortly before.
- The home run hit by Justin Williams in 2014 where the ball hit the top of the slide by the softball diamond. It wasn't only far, but it was so high that Williams was almost to second base before you could hear the ball hit the medal on the top of the slide.
- Jackie Seifring and Lane White winning state titles at the state track meet in 2014.
- The district baseball championship game against Cincinnati Christian in 2014 where Covington won the program’s first district title in 42 years.
- Seth Thomas pancaking two Bethel players at once in 2016.
- Seeing Tom Barbee get elected into the Ohio Wrestling Coaches Hall of Fame and coach his the final match of his career in the state championship match in 2017 thanks to a great performance by Lance Miller.
- The Lady Buccs finishing state runner-up and Jett Murphy winning state in the 2018 state track meet.
- Sammi Whiteman breaking the school scoring record in 2019 with Lynnette Roeth and Judy Miller there to share in the moment.
- Lauren Christian winning state in the shot put in 2019.
- Every time A.J. Ouellette touched the football. (Enough said).
In closing, thanks to those who helped make GoBuccs.com possible - especially Roger Craft, Bob Huelsman, the local businesses and those who have donated their time to help. Hopefully there are many more memories to come.