AVON LAKE — To Mike Haddad, it felt like a slap to the face. Not to him, but to his team’s defense. The Avon Lake defense. The one that’s smothered every opponent it has faced and become the foundation of its state title dreams.
But as Midview glided down the field and scored on its opening possession Friday in the Division II, Region 6 quarterfinal, Haddad, a senior linebacker, and his Avon Lake teammates, took it personally.
Over the next five possessions, the Shoremen’s taut defense flexed it muscles. And after a dizzying offensive surge, Avon Lake was off and rolling to a 50-13 victory over Midview at Avon Lake Memorial Stadium.
With the win, the Shoremen (11-0) now cast their eyes to next Friday’s regional semifinal against Ohio Cardinal League powerhouse Ashland (10-1).
The last time Avon Lake squared off with Ashland was 2003 in the first round of the playoffs, when the Shoremen posted a 14-3 victory en route to a state championship.
In their first foray into the playoffs in two years, after missing out in 2006, Avon Lake was every bit as prolific on both sides of the ball as its regular-season dominance would suggest.
The Shoremen put up 539 yards of total offense on one of the stingiest defensive teams in the area, 350 of which came on the ground.
Outside of a 40-yard run by elusive scrambling quarterback Adam Koubek, Midview’s attempts at running the football were slammed shut. Avon Lake’s big-play defense forced three turnovers, all of which were converted into points.
The Middies (8-3), an eighth seed, certainly made a strong first impression, as Koubek capped a 10-play opening drive with a 27-yard fourth-down touchdown throw to wide receiver Mike Schmittle.
“It’s the playoffs and every team is going to come out and give you their best shot,” said Haddad, who also ran for 124 yards and two touchdowns. “There’s no excuse for the way we started if you want to be a lockdown defense. But we buckled down and made sure we responded.”
With a bruising ground game powered by the combination of Haddad and tailback Jeff Tell (24 rushes, 194 yards and two touchdowns), the Shoremen moved the football with ease. When Midview overcompensated with an extra defender, Avon Lake quarterback Nick Firment (13-for-21 for 188 yards and three touchdowns) found seams in the Middies’ coverage for long strikes through the air.
“We knew there were going to be weak spots in their coverage,” said Firment, who has now thrown 20 touchdowns on the year and just one interception. “We’re all very familiar with the type of defense they run, which is a 3-3 stack. We played them in a scrimmage earlier this year and saw it and we saw it in our first game of the year, against Avon. We know it well.”
For all the Shoremen’s offense, Midview trailed just 14-7 heading into the last six minutes before halftime. But the tone of the game permanently shifted when Koubek and Middies tailback Josiah Holt failed to convert on an option pitch, resulting in a fumble, which was recovered by Avon Lake linebacker Dave Henderson.
The Shoremen then ripped off an eight-play drive capped by Haddad’s 4-yard touchdown run and followed with another Haddad score from 31 yards out just 18 seconds before halftime.
Avon Lake stretched its lead to 35-7 on its first possession of the second half when Tell ripped off a 39-yard touchdown run and a rout was on.
“We were physically outmatched from the get-go,” said Midview coach Bill Albright.
The playoffs were uncharted territory for many of the Shoremen, according to head coach Dave Dlugosz, and Friday was a telling performance.
“With every team, it’s just a little bit different,” he said. “You don’t know how they’re going to respond that first game. Actually, Midview taking the ball down and watching how our kids responded made me feel a little bit better. We needed to get punched in the mouth. We needed to see how we would respond. Obviously, we responded well.”
Contact Pete Alpern at 329-7137 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
MIDVIEW 7, AVON LAKE 0. Mike Schmittle 27 pass from Adam Koubek (Kyle Koubek kick), 6:24. DRIVE: 10 plays, 63 yards. TIME OF POSSESSION: 6:36. KEY PLAYS: Koubek connects with Nick Smith on 13- and 10-yard sideline passes.
MIDVIEW 7, AVON LAKE 7. Sean Oxley 21 pass from Nick Firment (Joe Prendergast kick), 4:43. DRIVE: Four plays, 73 yards. TIME OF POSSESSION: 1:34. KEY PLAYS: Firment connects with Ryan Scherer for 33-yard gain, and 15 yards is added on after a face-mask penalty. Mike Haddad picks up 5 yards and is ruled down before a fumble recovery by Middies at the 25-yard line.
AVON LAKE 14, MIDVIEW 7. Joe Gaydosh 18 pass from Firment (Prendergast kick), 0:52. DRIVE: Seven plays, 77 yards. TIME OF POSSESSION: 2:25. KEY PLAYS: Two 10-yard first-down runs by Jeff Tell.
AVON LAKE 21, MIDVIEW 7. Mike Haddad 4 run (Prendergast kick), 2:54. DRIVE: Eight plays, 41 yards. TIME OF POSSESSION: 3:20. KEY PLAYS: Dave Henderson recovers fumble at Midview 41-yard line. Tell picks up first down on fourth-and-2 at the Midview 32. Firment hooks up with Scherer for 15-yard pass inside Midview 5.
AVON LAKE 28, MIDVIEW 7. Haddad 31 run (Prendergast kick), 0:18. DRIVE: Four plays, 53 yards. TIME OF POSSESSION: 0:58. KEY PLAYS: Firment 10-yard pass to Dan Weimer, who gets out of bounds with 39 seconds left. Tell picks up 9 yards to set up TD run.
AVON LAKE 35, MIDVIEW 7. Jeff Tell 35 run (Prendergast kick), 9:36. DRIVE: Six plays, 68 yards. TIME OF POSSESSION: 2:24. KEY PLAYS: 9- and 14-yard runs by Tell.
AVON LAKE 35, MIDVIEW 13. Adam Koubek 39 run (kick failed), 6:15. DRIVE: Six plays, 62 yards. TIME OF POSSESSION: 3:12. KEY PLAYS: 12-yard reception by Schmittle from Adam Koubek to Avon Lake 48.
AVON LAKE 43, MIDVIEW 13. Dan Weimer 24 pass from Firment (Pete Hart run), 8:47. DRIVE: Six plays, 79 yards. TIME OF POSSESSION: 3:11. KEY PLAYS: Firment 17-yard completion to Weimer on third-and-5. Tell 45-yard run inside Midview 25.
AVON LAKE 50, MIDVIEW 13. Tell 8 run (Drew Studson kick), 1:34. DRIVE: Nine plays, 66 yards. TIME OF POSSESSION: 4:52. KEY PLAYS: 21-yard run by Tell to Midview 45. Runs of 8, 7 and 11 yards by Cody Bennington.
Avon Lake 50, Midview 13
Avon Lake 14 14 7 15 — 50
Midview 7 0 6 0 — 13
M — Mike Schmittle 27 pass from Adam Koubek (Kyle Koubek kick)
AL — Sean Oxley 21 pass from Nick Firment (Joe Prendergast kick)
AL — Joe Gaydosh 18 pass from Firment (Prendergast kick)
AL — Mike Haddad 4 run (Prendergast kick)
AL — Haddad 31 run (Prendergast kick)
AL — Jeff Tell 39 run (kick failed)
M — Adam Koubek 39 run (kick failed)
AL — Dan Weimer 24 pass from Firment (Pete Hart run)
AL — Tell 8 run (Drew Studson kick)
First downs 10 23
— by rushing 4 16
— by passing 6 7
— by penalty 0 0
Yards rushing 120 350
Yards passing 96 189
Total offense 216 539
Passes att./comp. 15/8 21/13
Intercepted by 0 2
Fumbles/lost 2/1 0/0
Penalties/yards 6/40 7/55
RUSHING — (M) Adam Koubek 12-83, Josiah Holt 10-23, Jordan Smith 5-9, Ross Moore 3-5. (AL) Jeff Tell 24-194, Mike Haddad 14-124, Cody Bennington 4-32.
PASSING — (M) Adam Koubek 8-15-96-1-2. (AL) Nick Firment 13-21-188-3-0.
RECEIVING — (M) Nick Smith 5-49, Mike Schmittle 3-47. (AL) Ryan Scherer 4-73, Dan Weimer 4-64, Sean Oxley 1-21, Joe Gaydosh 1-18, Bryce Alurovic 1-6, Jeff Tell 1-4, Mike Haddad 1-3.