For the first time since 1988, the Covington High football team finished its season unbeaten.
Star senior running back Devin Brumfield has rushed for 1,779 yards and scored 18 touchdowns heading into the state playoffs, and fellow senior Joshua Alfaro has thrown for 1,814 yards and 20 touchdowns.
But if you ask anyone who is part of the Covington High football program, they will tell you that none of it would be possible if it weren’t for the play of one of the most dominant offensive lines in all of Class 5A.
“Make no mistake about it,” Brumfield said. “We aren’t where we are as an offense and as a team if it wasn’t for our big guys up front. They have done an outstanding job.”
Left tackle Will Wanner (6-5, 310), left guard Kyle Fauntleroy (5-11, 245), center Luke Appe (6-0, 270), right guard Michael Kazerooni (5-11, 245) and right tackle Nick Cotton (6-6, 280) have blossomed this year for the Lions. Along with sophomore Kobe Amos, who is also part of the CHS offensive line rotation, they have been dominant up front on the line of scrimmage.
“Because the entire unit has been healthy this year, they have been able to grow and gel together,” Covington coach Greg Salter said. “Compare that to the last two years when we lost our starting center. To be healthy for an entire season and being out there every day in practice, you start to build that confidence among your teammates.
"Not many fans understand this, but if our offensive line can look every day at practice to their right and their left and see the same guys, you just have no idea how beneficial that is. It makes you a better football team.”
While it is easy to tell whether the skilled-position players have quality performances based on their statistics, it is harder for the untrained eye to judge whether an offensive linemen is playing well.
“What we look for is the amount of negative plays, or hopefully lack thereof,” Salter said. “Take the game against Northshore (on Oct. 20) when Devin went over 200 yards. To accomplish that, your lowest carries are like 5 to 6 yards a pop. That is what it was.
"You average 5 to 6 yards a carry is the tell-tale sign to me that our guys up front our doing their job. When we are not getting hit before then, that is a heck of a night for an offensive line.”
Starting five seniors who have a wealth of experience helps, but Salter said it is their drive off the field that sets them apart.
“Of course, staying healthy is a big thing, and we have had good fortune in that aspect,” he said. “But I can remember this very clearly: After we lost to Hahnville in the playoffs last year, that group took it upon themselves to get bigger, stronger and faster. They started that first day back at school after the Hahnville game.
"They could have waited until after the Christmas break, but they didn’t. All of them.
“Nick Cotton played last year at 230 pounds, and now he is 280. Will Wanner is carrying the same weight, but his max (in the weight room) is tremendously better.
"Michael Kazerooni was a non-starter last year, but one we knew had a ton of potential and played very well in junior varsity. He wasn’t physically as strong as the guys he was going up against. Luke Appe and Kyle Fauntleroy also made incredible strides and gains in the weight room. That develops confidence.”