CRYSTAL LAKE – Occasionally, Ripon College quarterback Stephen Covalt will jump on the website “hudl” and watch some Prairie Ridge game videos.
Covalt sometimes will notice something the Wolves’ quarterback is doing that needs some correction, so he will offer his input.
“He doesn’t like being critiqued by his brother, but he’ll listen because he knows I’m right,” Covalt said.
Actually, Brett Covalt doesn’t mind that much. The current Prairie Ridge quarterback owes a lot to his brother for helping learn the triple-option offense. Brett, a junior, has grown into the position this season and helped the No. 14-seeded Wolves (7-4) to five consecutive victories and a Class 6A quarterfinal playoff berth at No. 1 Boylan (11-0) at 1 p.m. Saturday in Rockford.
“[Stephen] really helped me out with my footwork and throwing,” Brett Covalt said. “He really got me prepared to run this offense. He just really is a good brother.”
Brett would love to help extend the Wolves’ season at Titan Stadium, the field where Stephen’s career ended with a 14-7 semifinal playoff loss to Boylan in 2010. That, coincidentally, was Prairie Ridge’s last playoff loss.
Although Brett did not start for a full season as a freshman or a sophomore, he has seized the quarterback job this season and leads the Wolves with 875 yards rushing and 15 touchdowns.
Covalt led Prairie Ridge with 140 yards rushing and threw the game-winning
touchdown pass, a 28-yard toss, to wide receiver Danny Meikel in the last minute of Saturday’s 21-20 victory over Marmion.
“[Brett] really has a knack for the offense,” Wolves coach Chris Schremp said. “He’s pretty smooth with his footwork and making the reads. It’s hard to explain. He’s got IT. Some kids who are really good athletes can’t get the footwork down or can’t make those reads on the run. We could see he could do that.”
Covalt was in sixth grade with the Junior Wolves when he started playing quarterback in travel football. At that time though, the program did not run triple option. Still, Covalt was being schooled by his big brother, who took Prairie Ridge to its second of three consecutive semifinal appearances.
“I helped him with footwork and guys you’re supposed to be reading on each play,” Stephen said. “It was more of him wanting to know what to do. He’d be bugging me what to do on each play. I kind of realized it’ll be good for him, he’ll be more prepared for what he’s doing now than I was at his age.”
The Covalts grab a football and some cones, to denote defensive players, and work on option fakes and moves in their yard. Stephen started his college career at Drake, but transferred to Division III Ripon because the Red Hawks use the triple option.
“Once Stephen went to Ripon and started running the offense up there, those two guys were throwing things back and forth,” Schremp said. “That can only help. There’s not too many households that have two option quarterbacks sitting around talking about running the option.”
Brett Covalt said he wasn’t fast enough as a freshman, but since has increased his speed through lifting weights and working at Davis Speed Center. He started some sophomore games last season when Brent Anderson, now a running back, was moved up from the sophomore team to replace Prairie Ridge’s injured quarterback.
“It was dedication and hard work,” Covalt said. “I just really busted my butt, I knew I could get the [starting varsity] job. I really had to prove myself and I did.”
Now, the Wolves have won seven consecutive playoff games – they won the 2011 Class 6A championship and missed the playoffs last year – and have a chance to reach the semifinals again. The offense, which struggled in the first six games, has put up 21 or more points in those five wins.
“I feel really good [about the offense],” Covalt said. “Our line is doing a great job with the blocks, the backs are doing a great job holding onto the ball, running hard and breaking tackles. We’ve improved a lot.”