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After 10 years, Quinion steps away from Avon football program

Avon High football coach Brett Quinion

AVON, Dec. 3 — Brett Quinion, who led the Avon High football team to five Pequot Conference Uncas Division titles and three CIAC playoff appearances, has resigned as head coach of the Falcons. Quinion declined to speak why he decided to end his tenure but just said, “It’s time.”

Quinion just completed his 10th season with the Falcons, the second-longest tenure in team history behind Glenn McLellan, who coached for 26 seasons. Quinion finished with a record of 67-37. Only McLellan has more wins (130).

This season, Avon went 10-0 for the second time in four years and captured the Uncas Division championship with a hard-fought 14-7 win over Ellington/Somers. The Falcons earned a berth into the CIAC Class L tournament but fell to New Canaan in the quarterfinals, 16-7.

Quinion, an Avon High graduate who played here under McLellan in the mid 1970s, was named as the seventh coach in the history of the program in 2003 and led the Falcons to success they had never achieved before.

In the last six seasons, Avon went 53-11, winning five Pequot Conference Uncas Division titles and earning Class L playoff berths in 2008, 2009 and 2012. The 2008 playoff berth was the first in team history. Avon won four straight Uncas Division titles from 2007-10 and added a fifth this year. It had been 14 years since the Falcons won a league title when they earned a banner in 2007.

But it wasn’t easy and it took time. Quinion’s first team in 2003 went 4-6 and finished the season with just 16 healthy players able to play in the season finale, a 25-14 win over Farmington. Canton asked Avon if they would be interested in forming a co-op program but the request was politely turned down.

In 2004, the Falcons went 1-9. A 12-6 victory over the co-op team from Vinal Tech/Coginchaug in 2005 snapped a 13-game losing streak. Finding strength in its running game, Avon won its final three games of the 2005 campaign to finish 4-6, including a 21-20 win over Farmington in the season finale.

It was the final game for Avon in the Nutmeg Conference with Farmington, Berlin, Northwest Catholic, Rocky Hill, Plainville and Middletown. Avon rejoined the Pequot Conference.

It turned out that the Nutmeg Conference had little time left. They played only three more seasons before most of its teams joined the Central Connecticut Conference in 2009. St. Paul joined the Naugatuck Valley League while Enfield and Vinal Tech joined Avon in the Pequot.

In the Pequot Conference, Avon went 5-5 in its first season (2006) and began to experience success in 2007. Avon dropped their opening game to Haddam-Killingworth but won nine straight including a 21-14 win over Tolland, scoring with nine seconds left in the game and a 13-6 win over Ellington/Somers in the season finale to win the Uncas Division title. Avon finished 9-1 but was ranked sixth in the CIAC’s playoff rankings with the top four earning playoff berths.

In 2008, the Falcons went 8-2, won a second straight Uncas title and earned the fourth seed in the Class L tournament and a game against Brookfield. Avon led by five at halftime but lost to the eventual state champion Bobcats, 36-19.

By 2009, Avon had over 100 players in its program on its varsity, junior varsity and freshman teams – a far cry from the small team that Quinion closed out his first season with. In 2009, Avon went 10-0, grabbed another Uncas Division title and hosted its first Class L playoff game at Muzzy Field in Bristol.

There were two significant games that season. Avon rallied with two touchdowns in the final 1:15 including a 57-yard run from Ross McDonald with no time left on the clock to beat defending Class S champion Cromwell, 37-31.

The other game was a 49-6 blowout victory over Wolcott Tech in Torrington. What made that game memorable was an 83-yard touchdown run by Wolcott Tech’s Nick Reardon, who was going to begin chemotherapy the next week for testicular cancer.

Wolcott Tech coach Jamie Coty wanted to get Reardon, 17, into the game for an uncontested punt and discussed the matter with Quinion before the game. With Avon leading by 42 points in the fourth quarter, Quinion called timeout and met Coty at midfield. “He said, ‘Let’s get him a touchdown,” Coty recalled.

And Reardon took the handoff, raced through a hole in the line and upfield with Falcon players chasing him the entire way. Quinion told Courant columnist Jeff Jacobs, “This wasn’t planned. The game was in hand. It just felt right at that moment. I figured if we can lift Nick’s spirits and hopes a little, he’ll have more energy to fight the fight. He’s going to need that spirit, that will, that energy.”

Reardon run: You Tube, WTNH-8

Avon faced eventual champion Berlin in the Class M semifinals and spotted the Redcoats 28 points in the first half before falling 35-28.

In 2010, Avon went 8-2 and won its fourth straight Uncas Division title. The Falcons were in line for another playoff berth but were upset on the final day of the season by Gilbert/Northwestern, 7-0.

In 2011, the Falcons were 7-3. It was a challenging season with nearly two weeks of practice time lost due to extensive power outages across the state, including in Avon. With the high school serving as a shelter for residents without electricity, there was no school and no practice. But there was some big wins including a double OT win over Housatonic/Wamogo in the driving snowstorm that caused the power outages later that day.

Under Quinion, five players have earned All-State honors with state player of the year Colin Moore surely set to become the sixth All-State player in the next few weeks. Prior to Quinion, there were just seven All-State players in over 40 years of Falcon football.

Mike D’Onofrio (2007-08) and Ross McDonald (2009-10) were two-time All-State selections with Andy Roell (2007), Austin Kick (2009) and Tyler D’Onofrio (2010) also being recognized.

Quinion leaves the program much healthier than he found it.

Gerry deSimas, Jr., is the editor and founder of The Collinsville Press. He is an award-winning writer and has been covering sports in Connecticut and New England for more than 30 years. He was inducted into the New England High School Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2018.

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