|2018 BUCCANEER BASEBALL...
Andy Johnson takes over for long-time coach Mitch Hirsch looking to build on the past success of Buccaneer teams.
COVINGTON - Andy Johnson is very familiar with the history of Covington baseball because he grew up around the game as a former Buccaneer player and as a long-time assistant coach under Mitch Hirsch.
Plus, Buccaneer baseball is a family tradition for Johnson as his father, Scott Johnson, was on the first Covington team to win a district title in 1972 - and Johnson wears his father's medal around his neck in remembrance.
To say Andy Johnson has a passion for Covington baseball is an understatement and he looks to breathe new life into a program that is coming off of a frustrating 5-16 season a year ago.
That passion for baseball is shared by his coaching staff consiting of his uncle Steve Johnson, former Buccaneer Nate Lavey and long-time assistant coach Mike Warner.
Steve Johnson was the ace of the pitching staff of the 1978 Covington team that won a sectional championship and a District runner-up trophy. He also coached Eaton's baseball team to the Regionals in 1991 - a team that will be inducted into the Preble County Athletic Hall of Fame this year.
Lavey was a key performer on Covington's last league championship team and played collegiately at Wittenberg and Bowling Green.
Johnson and his staff has a challenge ahead of them as they return just five players with varsity experience - seniors Mason Dilley and Braden Miller; junior Gavin McReynolds and sophomores Gage Kerrigan and Colton Francis.
"We are going to be a very young program, with nearly half our numbers coming from the freshman class," Johnson said.
The silver lining for Covington is the fact that it is young. This bodes well for the Buccaneers down the line as Johnson and his staff can instill into his players the same passion for the game he has enjoyed and also establish a philosophy he feels will lead to more victories.
And that philosophy revolves around effort.
"I expect our players to give their best effort on every play and continue to improve every time we take the field," Johnson said. "Our goal is to be a better team at the end of the year and to put ourselves in a position to surprise some people."
In spite of its youth and the fact that Covington will play a murder's row of a schedule, Johnson has high expectations for his team.
"Regardless, our expectations will not change," said Johnson of overcoming youth and inexperience. "I expects us to be focused and prepared to compete in every game we play. I expect our upperclassmen to challenge, support and motivate our younger guys."
It's a new era of Covington baseball - an era of even higher expectations.
Yes, there will be growing pains along the way, but given time Andy Johnson hopes to have the Buccs challenging for league and post-season titles in the future.