EATON TWP. — If you ask Avon coach Mike Elder to give you his best line, he’ll tell you he has two of them … offensive and defensive.
While the anticipated matchup in the West Shore Conference showdown between Midview and Avon on Friday night was the Middies’ high-octane passing attack against the Eagles’ stellar secondary, it was the linemen in the trenches that made the difference in Avon’s 28-0 victory.
“They whipped us up front on both sides of the ball, no doubt about it,” Middies coach Bill Albright said. “Their defensive line dominated our o-line, and their o-line dominated our d-line. That’s the game right there.
“When you’re getting dominated like that, you can’t protect the quarterback … there’s not a whole hell of a lot you can do.”
Midview junior Cody Callaway was the area’s top quarterback coming into the game, throwing for 1,441 yards, 17 touchdowns and four interceptions during the Middies’ 6-0 start. On Friday night, Callaway completed eight of 17 passes for 51 yards, no touchdowns and an interception.
He threw six straight incompletions — his last completion came midway through the second quarter — before being knocked out of the game midway through the third.
“He’s been banged up — he got banged up last week, too,” Albright said.
While Avon’s defense was causing Midview fits, its offense wasn’t making things easy for the Middies, either.
After a scoreless first quarter, the Eagles scored on their final three possessions of the first half — a 22-yard field goal by Eric Sumislawski, a 5-yard touchdown run by Ross Douglas and a 3-yard touchdown pass from David Zeh to Braeden Friss with no time left on the clock — to take a 16-0 lead.
Douglas, who will play cornerback for Michigan next season, added two more touchdown runs in the third quarter to lock up the victory. But it was a defensive play — he ran down a Brett Bartone fumble — that really got him excited.
“That was big,” he said. “It was the first play of the second half and we had momentum going into halftime because we had that touchdown at the last second. So I recovered the fumble and momentum was back on our side again.”
Douglas rubbed salt in the wound four plays later with a 6-yard touchdown run. He finished with 137 yards on 18 carries and the three touchdowns.
“When we need him, he’s there, and Ross did a great job running the football tonight,” Elder said. “He made some spectacular plays when the blocking wasn’t there. He was stiff-arming people and doing some things on his own.”
But the blocking was there early and often. Seven other Eagles carried the ball and Avon finished with 277 rushing yards. Most of the credit was given to the linemen.
“I said that going into the game — I felt we were better up front,” Elder said. “They’ve got great skilled athletes, and so do we. I didn’t think there was a huge advantage for them or us in that area, it was pretty even. Up front, I felt like that could be the difference in this football game and it was.
“It’s not too often those big fellas get mentioned, but I think there’s no question that tonight the difference in the game was up front on both sides of the ball.”
“They just came off the ball,” Albright said. “We were allowing them to get their guards on our linebackers … I feel sorry for those guys. We’ve got to learn and grow from it.”
The Middies and Eagles should be favorites in their final three games of the regular season, meaning the WSC championship may have been decided Friday night at Adelsberg Stadium. If both teams finish 9-1, they are expected to be near-locks for postseason berths, according to Fantastic50.net.
Going into Week 7, Midview held the No. 3 spot in Division II’s Region 6, while Avon was sitting at No. 8 in the same region.
“If we didn’t win this game, we weren’t going to win the conference championship most likely, and we also maybe wouldn’t have gotten into the playoffs,” Elder said. “We talk to our kids about wanting to be in control of our goals. Winning tonight doesn’t accomplish any goals, but it does put us in control of our own destiny, which is all you can ask for.”
• ONE AND DONE: In a strange twist, Douglas’ fumble recovery on the Middies’ first play of the second half was payback for Midview junior linebacker Devon Crum hauling in Zeh’s fumble on Avon’s first play of the game. The Eagles won the turnover battle thanks to senior linebacker Kevin Skotko picking off a Callaway pass in the red zone on the Middies’ opening drive of the game.
Contact Shaun Bennett at 329-7137 or email@example.com. Fan him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter.