By Joe Ostrica
Friday’s 34-7 win over Bay helped the Avon football team lock up a perfect 10-0 regular season record, it’s third under coach Mike Elder. The Eagles also went 10-0 in 2008 and 2010.
“I’m just proud of our kids,” Elder said. “To win our conference championship we had to be every team’s biggest game all year long. When you’re defending champions, it’s like you’re playing the other teams’ Super Bowl every week. Our players just went about their business and were well-prepared. To be 10-0 is not an easy accomplishment.”
Like most of its matchups this season, Avon’s powerful starting core shut the Rockets down early, leading 31-0 at the half. With most of the Avon starters getting pulled off the field early in the second half of several games this season, Elder thinks senior starting quarterback Tommy Glenn might be getting overlooked when it comes to discussions of who is the best in the state.
“He’s never mentioned in that conversation, and it shocks me because Tommy Glenn stepped in as a starter and has had an outstanding season,” Elder said. “People sometimes take what we’re doing for granted. He’s just – in my opinion – a first-team All-Ohio player.”
Elder has a great point when you take a look at Glenn’s statistics. He was 13-for-22 passing for 191 yards and two touchdowns against Bay, giving him 2,259 total yards for the season. In 2013 Glenn has completed 148 of his 231 pass attempts for a stellar 64 percent. He has 25 touchdowns and just four interceptions.
“We don’t play our kids and run our yards and stats up in the second half,” Elder said. “All of his stats come during meaningful minutes. Tommy is our starter, but (sophomore) Jake (Sopko) gets meaningful reps because he plays well. We have two great quarterbacks and the weapons in case one gets injured.”
That combo will be helpful in the postseason. Avon has become a mainstay in the postseason under Elder, reaching the postseason in five of his seven seasons with the Eagles. Avon reached the regional finals in 2008, finished the state runner-up in 2011 and reached the regional finals last year. The Eagles are 44-5 since 2010.
Seeded No. 2 in the Division II, Region 4, the Eagles will take on No. 7 Toledo St. Francis de Sales, who is 8-2 overall.
“Toledo St. Francis is a very good team,” Elder said. “They only lost to Toledo Central Catholic, who is the defending state champs. They also lost to a team from Detroit who is 10-0. They beat Toledo Whitmer, who was a Division I state runner-up last year and is in the playoffs again. That was a marquee win for them this year.”
Elder said St. Francis de Sales is solid on offense, led by a tough quarterback.
“They show multiple formations and run the ball exceptionally well,” Elder said. “Their quarterback is a two-way starter and also plays linebacker. He’s a tough kid. You don’t see too many quarterbacks who play linebacker. They have a very talented tailback. Their offensive line is big up front. They probably average 250 or 260 pounds up front on the line.”
Elder said the difference in the contest might come down to stopping the run and winning the turnover battle.
“I think offensively, for us, we have to constantly maintain drives,” he said. “I’m not sure if we can make big plays on this team. We have to control the clock a bit. It’s going to be fun, but a tough game.”
Elder said there is nothing like the playoff atmosphere.
“There’s a buzz in the air,” he said. “It’s a very busy time of year. It never stops, but it’s fun. You have to prepare your team and make sure your guys are ready to go.
“This is why you play the game – to play in November and you hope you get to play in December. Each week games can go either way. You just have to advance and you don’t care how you do it.”