Last season, the top-seeded Eagles got past fourth-seed Toledo Central Catholic in the regional semifinal before knocking off seventh-seeded Tiffin Columbian in the regional championship. Both games were at Fremont Ross’ Harmon Field at Don Paul Stadium.
Avon put the finishing touches on its third playoff victory over the Tornadoes on Friday night, knocking off the top seed in Region 6, 24-14, back at “The Don.” The Eagles have another rematch on their hands next Friday night against the second-seeded Fighting Irish.
“I know that Toledo Central Catholic’s a great football team with a great tradition,” Avon coach Mike Elder said. “I didn’t know they won until (the reporters) told me just now. They’re the team everybody’s been talking about to win a state championship, so we know we have our hands full. We’re up against it.
“But we’ve got a chance because we’re playing in the game, and our kids are going to welcome that opportunity.”
It hasn’t been officially announced, but all indications are that the regional final will be held back at Fremont — just like it was last year.
Make it three
Avon made it three playoff victories in a row over the Tiffin Columbian. The Eagles also beat the Tornadoes in the Division III, Region 10 semifinals in 2008 at Huron (14-6), and knocked them off in last season’s Region 6 finals, 35-21.
“You always hear that (Tiffin Columbian) would be more hungry to get the win because we’ve been beating them,” junior linebacker Kevin Maloney said. “But they don’t know that our team comes out hungry in every game. We try to stop them at the line every time on defense, and our offense did some good work to put 24 points on the board.”
Lost in the shuffle of the defense’s play was the great play of Avon’s special teams.
Sophomore kicker Eric Sumislawski made a 27-yard field goal on Avon’s first offensive possession and had two touchbacks on kickoffs, while also going 3-for-3 on extra points. On one of his extra points, the kick sailed out of the stadium and hit a car parked on Miller St.
Junior punter Logan Juhl helped field position with punts of 70 and 40 yards.
“I thought our special teams played well, flipping the field a few times with our punter,” Elder said. “Eric Sumislawski also did a great job tonight. We’re fortunate to have two guys kicking the ball that we have the utmost confidence in.”
As the Avon players were walking out of the locker room, a Tiffin Columbian assistant coach made it a point to shake their hands and congratulate them, wishing them luck the rest of the way.
“Keep working hard,” the coach said to every single player.
Coming up empty
The Tornadoes had drives of 12, 10, and nine plays without scoring. Maloney’s interception and fumble strip stopped two of the drives. The other was turned over on downs at the 24-yard line.
There were near perfect conditions for Friday’s game — a far cry from last year’s Tiffin Columbian-Avon regional final. That night was brutally windy and forced both teams to keep the ball on the ground.
Avon won to advance to the final four and eventually to the state final.
Elder always makes sure he mentions the following the Avon football team gets from the community. Once again, there was a good contingent of Eagles fans in attendance.