Forget that 9-1 record for the Avon Eagles. That's in the past.
The Eagles are 0-0. The playoffs have started.
It's a fall tradition in Avon. The Eagles travel far in the Division II state playoffs.
“It's pretty much expected,” offensive tackle Dylan Hergenroeder said. “People don't know how much work we put in.”
For the past decade, the Eagles have gone far into the playoffs. In that time, they've gone 114-16-2 with each game ending in the playoffs. Twice, Avon (9-1) have won 13 games before losing.
Avon opens the first round of the playoffs at 7 p.m. Friday against the Westlake Demons. Westlake (5-5) is familiar with Eagle players.
“We used to play them,” defensive tackle Amin Abdul said. “They used to be in our conference, so we know about them.”
The Eagles, who enter this year's as the top seed in Division II, Region 6, winning the past eight games, including the 41-0 romp of Steele in the final regular season game Friday.
“The way we look at it, our past success has nothing to do with right now,” Avon Coach Mike Elder said. “We punched our ticket to qualify for the second season. So right now, our team and Westlake have not lost a game.”
The Westlake game will be a reunion of sorts. Elder and Westlake Coach Jason Hall have known each other for years. The pair first met when Hall was a student coach and Elder was an assistant coach at Mount Union. Later, he was Elder's defensive coordinator at Valley and Ravenna. When Elder went to Perry High School, Hall became Ravenna's coach.
“We go way back,” Elder said. “We talk almost weekly. So I'm excited about getting to compete against him.”
Westlake enters the contest after winning the final two games of the regular season, topping Fairview Park, 42-20, and Lakewood, 51-21.
“(Hall) knows what he's up against,” Elder said. “Right now, we have more talent and more players. But I know they're going to come to play. He'll have them playing hard because that's the kind of coach Jason is.”
Meanwhile, Avon has proven to be a solid team this season. After opening the season in Orlando, Florida, against Stratford, a team from South Carolina, the Eagles are averaging 40.5 points per game, including the 7-0 win over the South Carolina team that was forfeited in the first quarter due to nearby lightning. Twice they've scored 63 points in games. Meanwhile, they are giving up just an average of 15.9 per game.
Stan DeTillio leads the multi-faceted attack, having started in 25 games in two seasons. He completed 7 of 12 passes for 122 yards in the season finale.
“It seems like he's started for a longer time,” Elder said. “That's because he had 15 starts last season.”
DeTillio's favorite target is receiver Ethan Holbrook, but he had just one reception in the win over Steele, a 44-yarder. Meanwhile, nine other Eagles caught passes.
The Eagles also have one of the area's top running backs in Jakorion Caffey, who had 49 yards against Steele, while three other running backs got the majority of the work.
Providing protection has been Hergenroeder, Matt Muir, Matt Alspach, Luke Hamilton and Connor Bingham, along with Abdul and Trent Jeske.
In four of the last five years, Archbishop Hoban of Akron eliminated Avon. This year, Hoban enters the playoffs as the top seed in Region 5 at 9-1 after losing to St. Edward of Lakewood 41-20 Friday night.
But Westlake is the next opponent. That's the past. However, the 9-1 season was something that made Elder proud.
“We've won the (Southwestern) Conference for seven years in a row,” Elder told his team.”The last time we didn't win it, many of you were in the fifth grade.”
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