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Avon vs. Canton rivalry takes its final bow this year – The Collinsville Press
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Avon vs. Canton rivalry takes its final bow this year

Canton players celebrate after scoring a touchdown on the final play of the game to beat Avon for the first time ever.

Last September, Canton players celebrate after scoring a touchdown on the final play of the game to beat Avon for the first time ever.

It’s hard for the current athletes at Canton High and Avon High to fathom the intensity that once was part of the rivalry between the schools that burned brightly through the early 1980s. In the past 25 years, there have been flickers of excitement between the two schools but it has been brief.

It was rekindled in boys basketball in 2009 when the two squads battled for a NCCC championship. In boys soccer, the two teams shared the NCCC championship in 2002 and were among the top teams in the league in 2003. In field hockey, Canton was a perennial thorn to Avon throughout the 1990s.

This rivalry takes its final bow this season.

Avon will join the Central Connecticut Conference (CCC) next fall. Canton will remain in the North Central Connecticut Conference (NCCC). Outside of two seasons in the early 1980s when Canton left the Northwest Conference to play as an independent, next fall will be the first time the two neighboring schools won’t be in the same league since 1965.

For years, the rivalry has burned a little brighter in Canton. They’ve always been the smaller school. In the last decade, the school population surged in Avon placing the Falcons in Class L. While Canton has grown in the last 20 years, it certainly hasn’t been at the same pace as Avon.

It was a packed house when Canton and Avon squared off for the NCCC title in 2009. (Photo courtesy of Glenn Smyth)

It was a packed house when Canton and Avon squared off for the NCCC title in 2009. (Photo courtesy of Glenn Smyth)

The win by Canton’s football team over Avon last fall was joyfully celebrated in Canton by the athletes, students, parents and alumni. After forcing a turnover, Canton drove 69 yards in the final 2:39 of the game, scoring on the final play for a 16-13 victory. Avon, on the other hand, was stunned and annoyed.

Fair or not, the bigger school is expected to win. In most cases, the Falcons have prevailed over Canton.  But not always. In the coming weeks, we’ll be looking back at some of the great games between the two schools over the past 50 years. You’re welcome to share your memories of the rivalry on our Facebook page or send us an email at CTwrestling7@yahoo.com.

The two schools meet for the final time in soccer next week. Avon hosts Canton in boys soccer on Tuesday (Sept. 16) at Fisher Meadows at 3:45 p.m. while the Canton girls soccer team hosts Avon at its new artificial turf field on Tuesday.

The field hockey teams square on Thursday, Sept. 18 when Avon hosts Canton. They return to Canton on Oct. 21 for a game on the turf.

In cross country, Avon hosts Canton, Enfield and East Granby at Fisher Meadows on Tuesday, Sept. 23. They’ll square off again at the NCCC championship meet in Windsor Locks on Saturday, Oct. 18.

The volleyball teams will play on Sept. 29 in Avon and Oct. 24 in Canton.

And the rematch of last year’s Canton vs. Avon football game will be Saturday, Nov. 15 in Canton on the turf field.

Will some of these contests take their place among the greatest games between the two schools? Perhaps. We’ll just have to watch and see.

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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