MANCHESTER, September 8 – There weren’t a lot of players on the sidelines for the Avon High football Saturday as the Falcons opened the 2018 campaign against East Catholic.
As Avon’s starting 11 players stepped onto the field, there were eight other players in uniform. One varsity player was away with a family commitment and there were a handful of other players in shorts and their uniform tops unavailable due to injuries.
It’s not the ideal situation for Avon High head coach Jeff Redman but it’s reality for this season.
East Catholic snapped a 12-game losing streak Saturday with a 28-18 CCC Division III victory over the Falcons at Cheney Tech but the Falcons showed that they could play – even with being greatly outnumbered.
“We can play,” Redman said. “The positive thing is that our scheme (offensive plans) do work. We can rush the ball and when they are fresh, they executed very well. But playing both ways (offense and defense) and special teams wore them down.
“They were really exhausted,” Redman said. “More players would help but this is the best we can do for now.”
Avon scored three touchdowns and ran for 178 yards. Senior Jadon Folkwein ran for a pair of touchdowns and a game-high 120 yards on 14 carries. Dan Quick ran through the middle for 65 hard-earned yards on 13 carries.
Avon took an early 6-0 lead on a five-play, 47-yard march that included a 21-yard completion from quarterback Tim Del Gallo to Quick and a 33-yard touchdown run up the middle from Folkwein. The conversion run failed.
The Eagles responded on their next drive, converting twice on long third down plays to keep the drive going. Noah Vail scored from nine yards away and Matt Byam kicked an extra point for a 7-6 East Catholic lead.
East Catholic scored again on their next drive, converting on a third down and 15 play with a 42-yard run from Byam to keep the drive going. Byam’s five-yard run extended East Catholic’s lead to 14-6.
Avon cut the lead to two points at halftime on Folkwein’s 23-yard touchdown run, 14-12.
East Catholic ate up 8:16 in the third quarter on its first possession of the second half, marching 80 yards on 13 plays and scoring on a three-yard run from QB Harrison Eklund to take a 21-12 lead.
Avon responded again. The Falcons marched 68 yards on 12 plays with Quick scoring from 20 yards out to cut the lead to three, 21-18 with 8:44 remaining in the contest. The conversion run failed. Key plays included a nine-yard run by Quick on a third down and one play to keep the drive going and a 17-yard run from Folkwein on a third down and eight play.
“All the kids played to the best of their ability,” Redman said. “Some kids were simply overmatched. We were moving the ball. I just wish in some situations when we were on defense, we didn’t (give up big plays) in third (down) and long situations when we had the opportunity to get the ball back.”
East Catholic scored a late touchdown with 1:07 remaining to extend the lead to 10 points.
The Falcons remain on the road and will travel to Tolland on Friday night for a 6 p.m. start in their first night game of the season. The first three games of the season are on the road for Avon.
NOTES: It was Redman’s first game as a head coach since he coached the Falcons in 1998. He spent four years as the head coach in Avon (1995-98) before going to Conard to spend 17 years as a defensive coordinator (1999-2016). … Avon slipped to 30-28 on opening day. … The Falcons beat East Catholic on opening day last year, 34-0.
East Catholic 28, Avon 18
Avon (0-1) 6 6 0 6 — 18
East Catholic (1-0) 7 7 7 7 — 28
A: Jadon Folkwein 33 run (run fails), 7:36
EC: Noah Vail 4 run (Matt Byam kick), 0:23
EC: Byam 5 run (Byam kick), 7:14
A: Folkwein 23 run (kick fails), 0:35
EC: Harrison Eklund 3 run (Byam kick), 1:54
A: Dan Quick 14 run (run fails), 8:44
EC: Steve Chen 4 run (Byam kick), 1:07
RUSHING: Avon – Quandrell Stewart 4-1, Tim Del Gallo 2-minus 8, Dan Quick 13-65, Jadon Folkwein 14-120; East Catholic – Noah Vail 14-38, Matt Byam 11-89, David Lundy 12-62, Harrison Eklund 2-13, Steve Chen 5-18
PASSING: Avon – Tim Del Gallo 1-6-0, 21; Quandrell Stewart 0-1-1; East Catholic – Harrison Eklund 2-6-0, 22
RECEIVING: Avon – Dan Quick 1-21; East Catholic – Matt Byam 1-9, Noah Vail 1-13
INTERCEPTION: Stewart, Avon, 1-0; RETURNS: Stewart, Avon, 2-19 (kickoffs)
MISSED FG: Avon – Kevin 35