AVON LAKE — There was no denying the secret to Avon’s success Friday night. The only debate after the Eagles’ 44-7 rout of rival Avon Lake centered on who was responsible.
Junior quarterback Jake Sopko threw three first-half passes to senior receiver Zack Torbert that went for 133 yards and three touchdowns, and the Eagles rode the quick lead the rest of the way.
“Zack Torbert is a heckuva football player. He’s big, he’s fast and he can make plays for sure,” Sopko said. “We have a lot of guys who can make plays … we like to spread it around. But Zack’s not hard to find, that’s for sure.”
Torbert wasn’t having any of it. He said the connection worked because of Sopko.
“The quarterback did all the work,” he said. “I tried to run as perfect of a rout as I could, and he just threw the perfect ball. We have a pretty close connection.”
It didn’t take long for the Eagles to exploit the connection. After Avon defensive lineman Andrew Roesch came up with an Avon Lake fumble on the opening drive, Sopko hit Torbert in the end zone for a 10-yard score.
On the Eagles’ next drive, Sopko threw a strike down the middle on fourth-and-15, Torbert split a pair of defenders and zipped in for a 14-0 lead.
After Avon’s Eric Sumislawski made it 17-0 with a 39-yard field goal and Avon Lake’s Sam Klimkowski broke a handful of tackles on a 21-yard scoring run, the pair hooked up for the best play of the game.
Torbert beat his defender down the right sideline and Sopko launched a bomb toward the pair. Torbert came back to the Avon Lake cornerback, leaped over him to haul in the pass, spun out of a tackle and sprinted the rest of the way for an 85-yard score.
“Obviously Sopko and Torbert had a great connection today,” Avon coach Mike Elder said. “We plan to keep developing our offensive weapons so that we can be tough to stop.
“When we went for it on fourth down and we ended up putting it in the end zone … that was a huge play in this football game.”
While the passing performance was squarely in the spotlight, there were plenty of other areas Avon excelled in during the season-opening win.
The defense recovered a pair of fumbles, hauled in an interception and harassed Avon Lake quarterback Jeremiah Campo throughout the game.
The offensive line — “They had a lot of critics … from inside the program,” Elder said — played a nearly flawless game as the Eagles rolled up 355 yards of offense.
Junior running back Gerett Choat — the star of Avon’s Week 1 win over Avon Lake last season — bounced back from a quiet first half to haul in a pair of big passes from Sopko and score on an 8-yard run.
“Gerett was a little banged up in the preseason, but we only ran 14 plays in the first half,” Elder said. “We were scoring quick so he didn’t really get the chance to get involved. But we know what we’ve got in him.”
The Shoremen put together a pair of lengthy first-half drives — the second culminating in Klimkowski’s highlight-worthy touchdown — but couldn’t do much else.
“We got beat in every facet of the game — on special teams, on offense and on defense,” said Avon Lake coach Dave Dlugosz, in the first game of his second stint in charge. “We weren’t as prepared as we should’ve been and that’s my fault. When you’re making those kinds of mistakes, going offsides, missing tackles … the head coach has to have the team prepared and I didn’t.”
Contact Shaun Bennett at 329-7137 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Like him on Facebook and follow him @ShaunBennettct on Twitter.