||More Sports||Sign up||School Finder|
Raby's Chris Covington has accounted for 33 touchdowns this season. | Scott Stewart~Sun-Times
The union of Chris Covington and Raby was serendipitous. It has been mutually beneficial.
“I never knew of Raby until the last minute and one of my baseball coaches told me there was an upcoming program,” Covington said. He made an instant impression at the small West side school of just more than 500 students.
“He came in as a freshman, and we already had an all-city quarterback Daniel Cleveland, but we put him up against the No. 1 defense and he really opened some eyes,” Raby coach D’Angelo Dereef recalled.
“He stepped up into the pocket and was just a natural born leader,” he said.
After his year apprenticing under Cleveland, Covington took his lumps as a first-year starter as the Raiders finished 4-5. He learned valuable lessons about the subtleties of the position. In the process the 6-3, 215-pound junior has powered the Raiders to unprecedented heights.
In just eight games, Cleveland has amassed nearly 2,300 yards passing and running and threw 22 touchdowns and run for another 11 touchdowns for the Land of Lincoln co-champions.
Cleveland leads Raby (6-2), the No. 13 seed, against No. 4 seed and defending Class 3A state champion Aurora Christian Friday night in Aurora. It is just the second state playoff appearance in the history of the program.
Covington’s emergence is the result of a rigorous summer that saw him participate at weekly 7-on-7 camps at Bolingbrook. He also took part in state and national camps, where he impressed as much with his intangibles, poise and desire as his physical tools. “My running ability is a big strength,” he said. “I think I’m an excellent pocket passer, the line does an excellent job protecting me.
“When I’m scrambling, I just have to make a play myself.”
Word of his exploits have traveled beyond the Public League. Covington has drawn recruiting interest from Illinois, NIU and Alabama-Birmingham, according to Dereef.
He also takes defeat hard. Last Thursday night at Gately, he walked off the field in near tears after his final pass sailed incomplete in the back of the end zone in the team’s 16-14 loss to King.
“By us losing, it actually helped us because it motivated us and made us realize we have more to do. We know, in the playoffs, we can’t make any more mistakes,” he said.
“On Friday, we’re going to be pumped up about playing and looking for a win.”