AVON LAKE — No, the focus on FIPs — fumbles, interceptions and penalties — didn’t leave the Avon Lake program when longtime head coach Dave Dlugosz retired after last season.
That focus remains — and will be especially intense today when the Shoremen watch the film of Friday night’s key Southwestern Conference game against Brecksville.
Two fumbles and a safety — not a FIP, but an M for mistake — completely changed the game and shifted the momentum to the Bees in the first half, and two costly penalties and an interception thwarted a Shoremen rally in the second.
It all added up to a 24-14 Bees victory, helping Brecksville improve to 6-1 and 4-0 in the SWC. Avon Lake dropped to 5-2 and 2-1.
“Oh, yeah, we’re going to hear a ton about FIPs this week, and we should,” said Avon Lake quarterback David Winkel, who completed 16 of 30 passes for 266 yards and two touchdowns to Max Seipel. “Brecksville is a great team and it hurts because they have the inside track to the SWC now. But we’ll come back strong.”
Avon Lake was in control in the first half, with a 7-0 lead after striking quickly on its second drive, as Winkel hit Seipel on a 69-yard touchdown pass.
The Shoremen benefited from a Bees miscue on the ensuing kickoff return that resulted in Brecksville being pinned at its 6. Collin Lucas’ sack on third down — one of three tackles for loss in the first half for Lucas — figured to set up Avon Lake nicely. But Seipel fumbled the punt return, and the Bees regained control at their 45.
The Avon Lake defense held again, but a nice punt by Tim Tupa forced the Shoremen to start at their 9. Winkel was sacked on the next play for a safety.
Brecksville took over at the Shoremen 48 after the free kick, and made it 10-7 five plays later when Tim Tupa found his brother Tyler for a 23-yard score. The same duo connected for the 2-point conversion.
On the next Avon Lake drive, another fumble — this time by Lucas — set up the Bees in Avon Lake territory again, and six plays later, Tim Tupa ran in from 14 yards to make it 17-7. Tupa threw for 170 yards and ran for 53 in leading the Bees to 24 unanswered points.
“Tim is the best athlete on the field and he deserves to have the ball in his hands in every key play in a game,” Brecksville coach Jason Black said.
The other members of the FIPs bunch hurt Avon Lake in the second half. After forcing a punt, the Shoremen drove 82 yards in 16 plays on a drive in which they started at their 4. But false start and holding penalties forced the Shoremen into a passing situation, and Winkel was picked off at the 11.
Seven minutes later, Tim Tupa found Austin Strnad for a 16-yard touchdown pass to put the game away.
“I don’t want to take anything away from Brecksville,” Avon Lake coach Larry Laird said. “But it comes down to, you can’t turn the ball over against good football teams. It happens. That’s why we coach high school football.
“It hurts right now, but sometimes life kicks you in the teeth and it’s all about how you respond.”
UNIQUE SIGHT PREGAME: After the Shoremen came out of the locker room about five minutes before kickoff, they encircled the AL logo at midfield and took part in the “Oklahoma” drill, where players hit each other in one-on-one drills until someone hits the ground or a coach blows a whistle.
Contact Joel Hammond at 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.