ROCKY RIVER — Avon got tested Friday night. The Eagles passed.
Not so much literally. Avon went to the air only 13 times against West Shore Conference foe Rocky River. The Eagles passed in the figurative sense.
“This was a good experience for our kids, because we have bigger goals down the road,” said Mike Elder, whose Eagles defeated the Pirates 42-21.
Those larger goals for Avon, 8-1 and 6-0 in the conference, include the postseason. The Eagles entered Friday’s games fifth in the Region 6 rankings.
Avon’s victory also clinched at least a tie for its third consecutive WSC title. The Eagles started the evening a game ahead of Rocky River and Midview. A victory next Friday against North Ridgeville or a loss by Midview would give Avon the outright championship.
“We knew Rocky River was a pound-it, smashmouth football team,” Elder said. “We wanted to get on top of them early and make them do things they don’t like to do. We didn’t get that separation we wanted until the fourth quarter.”
That was the test, and the student who aced it most impressively was Ross Douglas, who ran for 233 yards and five touchdowns. His 64-yard run for a TD early in the fourth quarter broke a 21-21 tie and his fifth touchdown 3½ minutes later put Avon ahead by 14 points with only seven minutes to play.
Rocky River (5-4, 4-2 WSC), because of its reliance on running the ball, is not normally a team that can overcome a deficit late in a game.
“My hat’s off to Rocky River,” Elder said. “They kept it close, and we needed that. Our kids faced adversity and they responded, and I’m proud of that.”
Elder added that he was especially proud of his 180-pound senior running back, who will play for the University of Michigan next year.
“Ross Douglas is a terrific talent,” Elder said. “He is going to be a Division I athlete, and you saw why that is tonight.”
“I just do whatever I will do to help my team win games,” Douglas said. “Tonight it was scoring five touchdowns, but whatever I need to do I will do it.”
Avon never trailed, but each touchdown by Douglas was answered by the Pirates for three quarters. The final tie came when Pirates quarterback Keelan Boettcher scored on a 2-yard run with 11:12 to go. The drive went only 48 yards after a 24-yard punt set up Rocky River in Avon territory.
Douglas scored two plays later, busting through a hole off right tackle and speeding past the Pirates’ defense untouched.
It was Rocky River’s turn to suffer a bad punt, as a 23-yard kick gave Avon possession at the Pirates’ 35. Douglas scored his last TD six plays later.
Logan Juhl intercepted Boettcher’s pass at the Rocky River 24. Mark Kvach scored Avon’s final TD with 4:08 remaining.
DON’T MAKE HIM ANGRY: Besides his 64-yard touchdown run with 10:28 to play, Douglas had another long run for a touchdown shortly after Rocky River had tied the score. His 58-yard TD run came 1:26 and four plays after the Pirates scored with 2:55 to go before halftime to make it a 14-14 game.
Contact Steve Byrne at 329-7135