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Aurora Christian to face prolific QB in Covington

Chris Covingtwill have chance keep his remarkable seasgoing when Raby meets AurorChristian Friday. | SCOTT STEWART~SUN-TIMES

Chris Covington will have a chance to keep his remarkable season going when Raby meets Aurora Christian on Friday. | SCOTT STEWART~SUN-TIMES

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Updated: October 24, 2012 9:31PM

The union of quarterback 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 up-and-coming program,’’ Covington said.

Covington 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 said. ‘‘He stepped up into the pocket and was just a natural-born leader.’’

After a year of apprenticing under Cleveland, Covington took his lumps as a first-year starter in 2011, as Raby finished 4-5. He has learned valuable lessons about the subtleties of the position. Now, the 6-3, 215-pound junior has powered the Raiders to unprecedented heights.

In just eight games, Covington has amassed nearly 2,300 yards passing and running, throwing for 22 touchdowns and running for another 11 for the Land of Lincoln co-champions.

Covington leads the Raiders (6-2), the No. 13 seed, against No.  4-seeded Aurora Christian, the defending Class 3A champion, Friday night in Aurora. It is just the second state playoff appearance in Raby’s history.

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 has traveled well beyond the Public League. Covington has drawn recruiting interest from Illinois, Northern Illinois and Alabama-Birmingham, Dereef said.

He also takes defeat hard. Last Thursday 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 Raiders’ 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,” he said. ‘‘We know, in the playoffs, we can’t make any more mistakes.

‘‘On Friday, we’re going to be pumped up about playing and looking for a win.’’

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