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Rocky Hill dominates inexperienced Avon in 49-15 season opening victory

Rocky Hill's Ricky Montalvo (24) dives and gets a hand on the foot of Avon's Spencer Jones (24) to bring him down in the backfield of Saturday's CCC Div. 3 West game in Avon

Rocky Hill’s Ricky Montalvo (24) dives and gets a hand on the foot of Avon’s Spencer Jones (24) to bring him down in the backfield of Saturday’s CCC Div. 3 West game in Avon

AVON, Sept. 10 – This might take a while.

For the past nine years, the Avon High football team has had a playmaker that could turn a game around or a veteran offensive line to open up holes for younger runners to break through and into the open.

This year’s edition of the Falcons is lacking experience this year and it showed in a 49-15 CCC Division III West Division loss to Rocky Hill on a hot, humid afternoon at the high school.

The Terriers scored the first time they touched the ball and put up 35 points in the first quarter in the season opening contest for both teams. Rocky Hill ran for 327 yards and five touchdowns and also scored on a pair of touchdown passes from quarterback Daniel Vavallaro.

Veteran head coach Sal Cintorino is in his first year at Avon. He coached nine years at Central Connecticut State. He was the head coach at Bristol Central and Newington for 10 seasons. “It’s the beginning of the season. We’re not panicking,” he said. “It’s about going back and seeing what we did and fixing some things. Each week, we need to be better than we were the week before.”

Rocky Hill's Grant Nieves (5) stays ahead of Avon's Leon Asberry (32) and Jack Jones (22) in Saturday's CCC Division III contest in Avon.

Rocky Hill’s Grant Nieves (5) stays ahead of Avon’s Leon Asberry (32) and Jack Jones (22) in Saturday’s CCC Division III contest in Avon.

Avon trailed 42-7 at halftime. Cintorino addressed his team. “How will we play in the second half? Are we going to come out with character and try to be better at everything we do?” he asked his players. “It’s one play at a time. We want to maintain what we’re doing and get better. And they said, yes, coach, let’s do that.

“I said this when we began in preseason, it will be one practice at a time, one game at a time,” he said.

Throughout the game, there were plenty of teaching moments by the Falcon coaching staff with the players as they came off the field and in timeout huddles.

“They had three guys go Division I. They lost 18 seniors. Any program in the state that loses 18 seniors will feel the ramifications,” Rocky Hill coach Mark Fritz said. “They have a good group of kids and they played tough. They’ll be good down the road.”

Rocky Hill (1-0, 1-0 CCC Div. 3 West) took command immediately. On its first offensive play, Grant Nieves went inside, broke a tackle and got away for a 20-yard run and a 7-0 lead. Rocky Hill kicker Damon Lonero, one of the Terriers’ offensive linemen, was 6-for-6 kicking extra points throughout the afternoon.

Nieves caught a 12-yard pass for Rocky Hill’s second score while Joseph Catania scored from 17 yards away to give Rocky Hill a 21-0 lead.

Avon (0-1, 0-1 CCC Div. 3 West) raised the excitement level of their fans by scoring on a 64-yard touchdown pass from first-year QB Dylan Burgos to Peter Gerosa, who slipped behind the secondary. But the Terriers quickly put an end to any Avon comeback hopes with Catania scoring on a 67-yard run on the next Rocky Hill offensive play and extending the lead to 28-7.

A 25-yard touchdown pass to William White in the second quarter and a seven-yard TD run from Joseph Ferreira put the Terriers ahead by 35 points, 42-7, with 2:29 left in the second quarter. As dictated by the CIAC’s new score management policy, the rest of the game was played with a running clock.

Avon QB Dylan Burgos is surrounded by Rocky Hill defenders in Saturday's loss to the Terriers.

Avon QB Dylan Burgos is surrounded by Rocky Hill defenders in Saturday’s loss to the Terriers.

Avon struggled to run the ball – gaining just 12 yards as a team. However, Burgos completed some nice passes. He was 5-of-12 for 106 yards, an interception and two touchdowns in his first varsity start.

In the fourth quarter, Burgos helped lead Avon on a five-play, 66-yard drive for the second score of the game for the Falcons. He completed an eight-yard pass to Dan Quick to begin the drive. Leon Asberry ran for 12 yards on third down to keep the drive alive. Burgos completed the drive with a 38-yard pass down the middle to Ryan Ollstead.

Due to poor snap on the extra point attempt, holder Tommy Donovan ran for two points to make the final score, 49-15.

“These young men are hard workers, they are resilient,” Cintorino said. “They could have given up and folded up their tents. They went as hard as they could for four quarters.”

The Falcons face a similar challenge next Saturday on the road. East Catholic in Manchester also runs the double wing offense. Avon will play its first night game on Friday, Sept. 23, at Tolland at 6:30 p.m. Avon returns home on Oct. 22 when they host Berlin at 1 p.m.

NOTES: The 49 points to Rocky Hill was the most points that Avon has given up on opening day. The 34-point loss was the second highest deficit on opening day for the Falcons. Avon lost to Windsor, 40-0 on opening day in 1999. … Jack Jones returned three kickoffs for 63 yards including one for 33 yards. … Rocky Hill leads the series between the two schools, 4-1. … Rocky Hill is 10-5-1 on opening day. Avon is 29-28. 

Rocky Hill 49, Avon 15
At Avon
Rocky Hill (1-0)                          35  7  0  7  — 49
Avon (0-1)                                   7  0  0  8  — 15
First quarter
RH: Grant Nieves 20 run (Damon Lonero kick), 9:26
RH: Nieves 12 pass from Daniel Cavallaro (Lonero kick), 6:39
RH: Joseph Catania 17 run (Lonero kick), 3:13
A: Peter Gerosa 64 pass from Dylan Burgos (Jack Jones kick), 2:49
RH: Catania 67 run (Lonero kick), 2:25
RH :William White 25 pass from Cavallaro (Lonero kick), 1:09
Second quarter
RH: Joseph Ferreira 7 run (Lonero kick), 2:29
Fourth quarter
RH: Greg Fernstrom 5 run (Matthew Lanciotto kick), 8:09
A: Ryan Ollstad 38 pass from Burgos (Tommy Donovan run), 1:09
Individual statistics
RUSHING: Avon – Dylan Burgos 6-15, Leon Asberry 3-21, Jack Jones 5-4, Spencer Jones 2-6, Team 3-minus 34; Rocky Hill – Greg Fernstrom 1-5, Joseph Ferreira 12-119, Jordan Jones 4-14, Grant Nieves 6-81, Joseph Catania 6-108
PASSING: Avon – Dylan Burgos 5-12-1, 106; Rocky Hill – Daniel Cavallaro 2-4-0, 37
RECEIVING: Avon – Peter Gerosa 2-64, Spencer Jones 1-minus 6, Dan Quick 1-8, Ryan Ollstad 1-38
RETURNS: Grant Nieves (RH) 2-50 (punts); Dan Quick (A) 1-8 (kickoff), Jack Jones (A) 3-63 (KO), Joseph Catania (RH) 1-23 (KO), Grant Nieves (RH) 1-19 (KO)

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.

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