Shane Covington knows that Joe Koch is a tough act to follow as Greenfield head football coach, but he is ready for the challenge.

All Koch did last season was lead the Hustlin' Hawks to the Woodland Conference East Division crown and then to a surprising 35-28 triumph over Greendale for the overall Woodland championship. The Hawks finished 7-3 after losing their WIAA playoff opener to Union Grove.

The good news for Covington and his staff is that Greenfield returns many key players, including six who earned first-team all-division honors last season, led by quarterback Sam Streeter and explosive running back Ezekiel Banks.

Because of the returning talent, and the potential of the program, the 26-year-old Covington figures Greenfield is a good choice for his first head coaching position.

Keep winning

"I am excited and all geared up to start," Covington said. "This feels like it could be a great team with a lot of starters back. We want to keep the Greenfield pedigree high. We want to get the seniors going and see who will take over the team leadership. We have a lot of seniors on the roster and they need to step up this season."

Covington has three main points to his coaching philosophy.

"We want to have that family aspect, going from the top to the bottom of the team," he continued. "We want the players to be consistently good in their behaviors on and off the field and to show integrity. We also want them to bring energy, emotion and enthusiasm and to play at a high level."

He has plenty of experience in football, starting with his playing days at Milwaukee Riverside High School, where he was an all-state running back. He played on the 2006 squad, which advanced all the way to the WIAA state semifinals.

He finished the 2007 season rated fifth in the state among senior players and after graduation in 2008, went to Indiana University. He later transferred to the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, where he played strong safety for a team that claimed the 2011 NCAA Division 3 championship.

After graduation from Whitewater, Covington earned an invitation to the Tennessee Titans NFL training camp. He went on to play for the Toronto Argonauts of the Canadian Football League and later played in the Arena Football League.

He has also served as assistant coach at Pius XI (2013), Marquette High School (2014) and Nicolet (2015), where he helped rebuild a program that had actually shut down for a year.

Knows winning

Now he is ready for the top spot at Greenfield.

"I am well aware of what it takes to be a part of a winning program," he said.

His goal is to build on what Koch started last season and keep the Hawks on the winning side.