"We wanted the ball first, hoping to get on the board early and make a statement," Covington head coach J.R. Kirby said after his team's 41-0 Region 15-AA win at Bolivar Friday night.
That statement was delivered in unmistakable terms.
Jamarion Dowell returned the opening kick off 80 yards for a TD and it was all Covington the rest of the way. Dowell led the Chargers with 130 yards on 19 carries and scored on a 19-yard touchdown run in the third quarter that put the game out of reach.
"We needed it and Dowell responded in a big way," Kirby said.
The rest of the Covington offense had big nights as well.
EuMorrion Flowers scored his first varsity touchdown. Quarterback Carson Ruffin punched in a pair of TDs on runs of one and four yards. Andrew Scott earned a mention from Kirby for a bruising 32-yard scoring run on fourth and one in the third quarter.
As a unit, Covington rushed 49 times for 297 yards with one fumble lost. Scott gained 53 yards on six carries and Jalen Fayne ran eight times for 65 yards.
On the defensive side of the ball, Covington (3-0 overall, 1-0 region) added to Bolivar's misery. The Tigers (0-3, 0-1) were victims of the Charger defense's second shutout of the season. Through three games Bolivar's offense has yet to put a point on the board.
Interceptions by Josh McGarity, Myles Starks and Tory Bradley and fumble recoveries by Mylan Sherrill and A.C. Young derailed any real offensive threat. Bolivar rushed 11 times for negative six yards, netting just 74 total yardsversus the Chargers' 326.
"We played well on both sides of  the ball," said Kirby. "We had some guys out and others stepped up to take care of business."
Kirby is hoping for a fully healthy team for next week's in-county rivalry game with the Brighton Cardinals.
"Brighton is big on both lines," he said. "(Nick) Johnson is a veteran quarterback, (Nick) Harvell is a good running back and they have receivers who can make plays. They traditionally have been a passing team, but they are trying to become more balanced. It should be a good test for us."

Jeff Ireland is The Leader's sports editor. To contact him, call 901-476-7116 or email jireland@covingtonleader.com.​