AVON LAKE — Avon Lake senior Jimmy Hessell said during camp that the Shoremen, who started poorly last year and narrowly missed a playoff berth, saw this year’s challenging
non-conference slate as a chance to prove themselves.
Hessell proved plenty. The athletic receiver/defensive back caught two touchdown passes, scored on a punt return and set up another score with an interception in Avon Lake’s 42-28 win over Avon on Friday night.
With the victory, the Shoremen avenged consecutive season-opening losses to the Eagles in which they were outscored 59-10.
“We have that chip on our shoulders. I think (last year) gave us an extra intensity for this game,” said Hessell, who finished with seven catches for 118 yards.
The Eagles were playing without 10 players who were suspended last week for a violation of team rules.
Avon seniors Ross Douglas and Ralph Smith, both committed to Division I colleges, did not play, though Avon coach Mike Elder again declined to say if those two players were part of the group that was suspended. The duo was among a group of players dressed in street clothes on the Eagles sideline.
Hessell, meanwhile, wasted little time making his impact felt: He intercepted Avon quarterback David Zeh on the Eagles’ first possession, and followed that with a leaping fourth-down catch at the Avon 5 to set up Avon Lake’s first touchdown, a 1-yard Winkel run.
After an Avon three-and-out, Hessell weaved in and out of traffic and outran the Avon Lake punt coverage team for a 77-yard score.
Avon stormed back with 21 unanswered points, the first on a Zeh connection with Rhys Ratino for a 58-yard touchdown. After Avon stopped Avon Lake inside the Eagle 10, the Eagles tied the game on a 65-yard catch-and-run by tight end Paul Yeager, and after Avon Lake quickly punted, Zeh’s 3-yard run gave Avon a 21-14 lead.
“We have a propensity for giving up big plays against Avon,” Avon Lake coach Dave Dlugosz said. “They didn’t run the ball too well, but they hit us with big plays. We have to find a way to get that taken care of.”
Avon Lake bounced back, with another Winkel-Hessell connection — this time from 39 yards — to tie the game at halftime, then took the lead near the end of a quiet third quarter with a 7-yard pass from Winkel to big tight end Kyle Kuhar.
Fitting the night’s theme, Zeh found Ratino — 29 seconds later — on an 83-yard touchdown pass to tie the game at 28 after three.
The fourth, though, belonged to the Shoremen and Hessell. On fourth down with eight minutes left, Winkel rolled right and found Hessell, who outleaped an Eagles defender for a 20-yard score. The Shoremen tacked on another score, on a Collin Lucas run, for the final margin.
“(Hessell) is one of the most athletic kids on the team,” said Winkel, who had three touchdown passes and one on the ground. “He can run, and he can get up (for the ball).”
Zeh threw for 305 yards, but was intercepted five times in his first varsity start.
“We have things we have to get better at,” Elder said. “I like our football team, we’re going to be just fine. David’s going to be a really good quarterback for us. He needs game experience. At quarterback, it slows down. He played well, and he’s going to have to get better, and he will.”
GUT REACTION: Donovan McNabb. The guy from “The Replacements.” Count Winkel in the group of guys who have, uh, refunded in the huddle during a game. Winkel, who dealt with cramps for much of the night, had to leave the game momentarily early in the fourth quarter after throwing up multiple times on the field. He was OK though: Six plays later, he and Hessell connected on the game-winner. “I had Subway before the game,” Winkel said. “I’m not doing that one again.”
Contact Joel Hammond at 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Avon Lake 42, Avon 28
Avon 7 14 7 0 — 28
Avon Lake 14 7 7 14 — 42
AL – David Winkel, 1 run (Alex Voloshen kick)
AL – Jimmy Hessell, 77 punt return (Voloshen kick)
A – Rhys Ratino, 58 pass from David Zeh (Eric Sumislawski kick)
A – Paul Yeager, 65 pass from Zeh (Sumislawski kick)
A – Zeh, 3 run (Sumislawski kick)
AL – Hessell, 39 pass from Winkel (Voloshen kick)
AL – Kyle Kuhar, 7 psss from Winkel (Voloshen kick)
A – Ratino, 83 pass from Zeh (Sumislawski kick)
AL – Hessell, 20 pass from Winkel (Voloshen kick)
AL –- Collin Lucas, 3 run (Voloshen kick)
First downs 14 17
— by rushing 7 5
— by passing 5 11
— by penalty 2 1
Yards rushing 105 218
Yards passing 305 212
Total offense 410 430
Passes att./comp. 42/15 23/12
Intercepted by 0 5
Fumbles/lost 2/1 3/2
Penalties/yards 5/52 10/75
RUSHING — (A) Mark Kvach 1-(-6), Zeh 17-70, Austin Bevins 2-4, Joe Travagliante 2-29, Tyler Vaccarella 1-6, Nick Varich 1-2. (AL) Wyatt Ohm 6-14, WInkel 8-44, Collin Lucas 15-91, Matt Morrissette 5-33, Jace Russell 6-35, Hessell 1-1.
PASSING — (A) Zeh 15-41-305-3-5, Varich 0-1-0-0-0. (AL) Winkel 12-23-212-3-0.
RECEIVING — (A) Kvach 1-18, Vaccarella 2-12, Ratino 7-183, Braeden Friss 2-12, Yeager 2-70, Travagliante 1-10. (AL) Hessell 7-118, Max Seipel 1-49, Morrissette 1-14, Kuhar 2-22, Joe Pappas 1-19.