AVON – There will be no shortage of outstanding football players on the field for the Avon High football team in 2012. Some are experienced but others are young. The question will be how they can come together as a team.
All-Pequot Conference running back Colin Moore and linebacker Jimmy Murphy are the most recognizable players returning for the Falcons in 2012.
Moore, a senior running back and defensive back, had an outstanding junior campaign, setting a new single season rushing record by rushing for 2,206 yards, a team-high 23 TDs and a new team record 19 two-point conversions. He ran for over 200 yards six times in 10 games.
Murphy, a junior linebacker, led the squad with 135 tackles and 9½ sacks along with one interception and one fumble recovery.
As it was a year ago, defense should be the cornerstone of the squad. Avon gave up 106 points, the fewest number of points since 1989.
“We return outstanding linebackers in Jimmy Murphy, senior Joe Murphy and junior Stephen Griffin,” Avon High coach Brett Quinion said. “Our secondary will be strong with seniors Mitch Gauthier and Anders Bells at cornerback and senior Patrick Driscoll-Kelly and junior Dylan Marquis at safety. Moore will see action defensively at linebacker and safety.”
The defensive line will include seniors Chappy Wingo, Brett Polinsky, Nick Rowe, junior Steve Griffin, sophomore Ryan Rogers and freshman Nick Taylor.
A year ago, Moore was able to carry the Falcons offensively. Not only did he rush for over 2,000 yards but he was able to complete 22-of-61 passes for 332 yards and 5 TDs at quarterback. “He is a difference maker,” Quinion said.
Moore will need help if Avon wants to be successful. A year ago, the No. 2 rusher on the team was the now-graduated Mitch Cappello with 150 yards. At quarterback, Noah Hahn completed just 4-of-21 passes for 63 yards.
“We have a chance to be a good team and compete with everyone if we can develop a balanced offense,” Quinion said. “I expect Colin to still be the best player on our team but in order for us to be a team that competes with the best couple of teams, we will need more weapons.”
It won’t be easy. Last year’s leading receiver tight end Will DeStefano (11 catches, 174 yards, 3 TDs) hurt his back during the baseball season last spring and isn’t expected to play. All five starters on the offensive line graduated, including All-Pequot Conference guard Will Shiffrin and tackle Tyler Arnott.
Quinion expects to see senior Dan Rodrigues at center, senior Nick Rowe and freshman Nick Taylor as the guards and sophomore Ryan Rogers and seniors Brett Polinsky and Chappy Wingo as the tackles. Junior Steven Griffin looks to start at tight end.
Quinion hopes to get more from the passing game to relieve some pressure off Moore and the newly constructed offensive line. Hahn is a year older, stronger and with a year of varsity experience under his belt. Receivers and running backs Justin Reichler, Chris Suttmeir and Dylan Marquis are all returning.
As far as the Pequot Conference’s Uncas Division goes, Avon should be in the hunt for a conference championship. Enfield and Gilbert/Northwestern return a large number of players. Enfield returns its entire offensive line and star back Avery Bossi. Gilbert has plenty of quick, veteran players including junior Tony Ortiz.
Coventry/Windham Tech added Bolton to its co-operative team and returns some solid players along with defending Uncas Division champion Ellington/Somers.
The season opens Saturday when Avon hosts Stafford/East Windsor at the high school at 1 p.m.
Falcons at a glance
Last year: 7-3, 7-3 Pequot Uncas
Coach: Brett Quinion, 10th season (57-36)
Key losses: All five starters on the offensive line including All-Pequot T Tyler Arnott, G Will Schiffrin; TE/P Will DeStefano (injury)
Key players: TB Colin Moore (302-2206, 23 TDs), QB Noah Hahn; WR Justin Reichler (2-58), WR/S Dylan Marquis, RB Chris Suttmeier, TE/LB Steven Griffin; G Nick Taylor, G Nick Rowe, T Ryan Rogers, T Brett Polinsky, T Chappy Wingo; C Dan Rodrigues; LB Jimmy Murphy, LB Joe Murphy, DL Luke Jalbert, CB Mitch Gauthier, CB Anders Bill; S Patrick Driscoll-Kelly
Outlook: Falcons will have new offensive line in front of Moore, who won’t be able to carry the offensive load by himself. Hahn is a year stronger at QB and Avon hopes to use its passing game to take some heat off Moore. Strength of the team should be its defense and its strong linebacker corps. Falcons should be a contender for the Uncas Division title.
Sat. Sept. 15 STAFFORD/EAST WINDSOR, 1 p.m.
Sat. Sept. 22 COVENTRY/WINDHAM TECH, 1 p.m.
Fri. Sept. 28 at SMSA/University (Dillon Stadium), 6:30 p.m.
Sat. Oct. 6 at Canton, 1 p.m.
Sat. Oct. 13 GILBERT/NORTHWESTERN, 6:30 p.m.
Sat. Oct. 20 at Granby, 1 p.m.
Sat. Oct. 27 HOUSATONIC/WAMOGO, 1 p.m.
Fri. Nov. 2 at Enfield, 7 p.m.
Sat. Nov. 10 ELLINGTON/SOMERS, 1 p.m.
Sat. Nov. 17 at Windsor Locks/Suffield/EG, 1 p.m