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Even in a 54-point loss to No. 7 Bloomfield, Avon shows potential for future

Avon’s Quandrell Stewart (2) gained only two yards rushing Friday night against defending state champion Bloomfield but he gained 63 yards on four kickoff returns.

BLOOMFIELD, September 13 – Avon High football coach Jeff Redman walked into Friday night’s season opening game with No. 7 Bloomfield with his eyes wide open.

He knew the chances of his Falcons pulled off an upset were minimal. The defending Class S state champions left little doubt scoring a 98-yard kickoff return on the first play of the game and scoring eight touchdowns in a 54-0 victory in Central Connecticut Conference play.

It was the fourth most lopsided loss in Avon’s 60-year history of playing football.

Yet, Redman was smiling afterwards. His team got beat but he saw so many positive things that bode well for the remainder of the 2019 campaign.

“I saw so many good things out there,” he said. “We moved the ball against an exceptional team. We’re not as good as them and we knew that. We can live with that. They have exceptional talent, oh my god. The speed on that team is incredible and those (Bloomfield) kids worked their (butts) off.

“Our kids will get to that point. They really will. But we’re still young right now.”

Bloomfield had 11 tackles for loss and scored touchdowns on a kickoff return (98 yards), an interception return (20 yards) and a fumble return (45 yards). The Warhawks stopped Avon’s only legitimate scoring opportunity when they blocked a 30-yard field goal attempt by Kevin Mullaj late in the second quarter.

“We’re still trying to get on track but we took a step forward,” Bloomfield coach Ty Outlaw said. The Warhawks committed eight penalties for 60 yards with one motion penalty that erased an 82-yard touchdown run. “We have some things to fix such as our timing. We’re getting used to playing at real speed – not summertime (practice) speed.”

Bloomfield receiver Jayvon Massey (5) caught three passes for 39 yards in Friday night’s 54-0 win over Avon.

Some of Avon’s biggest plays of the evening came from senior Chris Gens, the state champion wrestler who joined the team this fall after not playing a year ago.

Gens, who plays fullback, had a team-leading 74 yards on six carries, including a 51-yard scamper to the Bloomfield 19-yard-line in the second quarter. Gens is lined up behind a guard and to the side of sophomore QB Tabor Engle.

On several occasions, Gens took the hike from center and took off. “Chris Gens was unbelievable,” Redman said. “He’s got speed. He’s got power. He did an unbelievable job blocking and he carried the ball well tonight.”

Sean Nolan caught two passes for 31 yards and blocked an extra point. Francesco Longo ran for 34 hard-earned yards on 12 carries. Engle made a few nice passes and completed 4-of-10 passes for 29 yards and three interceptions.

Stewart returned four kickoffs for 63 yards while Colby Nemarich returned two for 29 yards.

“You can’t beat teams that are much better than you,” Redman said. “But you can learn from it. Tonight made us a better team. It really did. We’re looking forward to playing Tolland next week. They’re a good team but we will be competitive with them. We will.”

Avon’s Francesco Longo (33) ran for 34 yards on 12 carries in Friday night’s loss to Bloomfield.

Avon makes their debut on their new synthetic turf field next Saturday at 1:30 p.m. against Tolland in a CCC Division III East contest.

Bloomfield (1-0) took command immediately. Shakar Hill weaved his way down the right side of the field for a 98-yard kickoff return to begin the game. The Warhawks made it 15-0 on their next drive when Hill scored on an eight-yard run and Michael Raiford scored on a two-point run after he bobbled the snap on the extra point attempt.

Bloomfield marched 82 yards on 10-play drive to extend the lead to 22-0 on Anthony Simpson’s 2-yard run and the extra point from Sean Dixon Brodie (4-of-6). William Moore’s 20-yard interception return gave Bloomfield a 35-0 lead. Nolan blocked the extra point.

Avon had its best drive in the second quarter. Stewart’s 16-yard kickoff return put the ball on the Falcon 24-yard line. After a six-yard gain from Longo, Gens ran 51 yards down the right sideline to the Bloomfield 19 and it took three tacklers to bring him down.

Bloomfield had tackles for losses on the next two plays and a two-yard gain from Gens put the ball on the 23-yard line. But Raiford and Kyle Barron blocked Mullaj’s 30-yard field goal attempt to preserve the shutout.

Dish had a three-yard run with 20 seconds left in the second quarter and scored on a 45-yard fumble recovery in the fourth quarter after Engle bobbled the snap near midfield.

NOTES: The win was the fourth biggest loss in school history. Middletown beat Avon by 64 points (70-6) in 2000 but Bloomfield beat the Falcons by 61 in 1998 and 60 points in 1999. … Avon is now 30-30 on the opening day of the season. Yes, this is Avon’s 60th season of varsity football. … Bloomfield leads the series, 8-2 with eight straight victories. Avon won the first two games between the two schools in 1967 and 1968.

Bloomfield’s Anthony Simpson (3) ran for a game-high 77 yards and 2 TDs on seven carries.

Bloomfield 54, Avon 0
At Bloomfield
Avon (0-1)                            0   0  0  0  — 0
Bloomfield (1-0)             22  26  0  6  — 54
First quarter
B: Shakur Hill 98 kickoff return (Sean Dixon-Brodie kick), 11:45
B: Hill 8 run (Michael Raiford run), 7:15
B: Daron Bryden 2 run (Dixon-Brodie kick), 1:18
Second quarter
B: Anthony Simpson 31 run (Dixon-Brodie kick), 7:40
B: William Moore 20 interception return (kick blocked), 6:45
B: Simpson 5 run (Dixon-Brodie kick), 3:04
B: Brandon Bish 3 run (kick failed), 0:20
Fourth quarter
B: Bish 45 fumble recovery (run fails), 7:41
Missed Field Goal: Kevin Mullaj (A) 30
Individual statistics
RUSHING: Bloomfield – Anthony Simpson 7-77, Shakur Hill 5-37, Daron Bryden 1-2, Brandon Bish 1-3, Christian Garcia 1-minus 5, Dallas Rose 2-minus 3, Jaden Jesurum 1-2; Avon – Tabor Engle 4-2, Chris Gens 6-74, Francesco Longo 12-34, Colby Nemarich 2-minus 9, Cameron Casey 1-minus 4, Quantrel Stewart 3-2
PASSING: Bloomfield – Daron Bryden 12-18-0, 147; Avon – Tabor Engle 4-10-3, 29
RECEIVING: Bloomfield – Jayron Massey 3-41, Anthony Simpson 4-57, Denzel Patrick 2-34, Christian Garcia 2-15, Michael Raiford 1-13; Avon – Sean Nolan 2-27, Quantrel Stewart 2-minus 2
RETURNS: Kickoff – Hill (B) 1-98, Stewart (A) 4-63, Nemarich (A) 2-29; Punts – Garcia (B) 2-10
INTERCEPTIONS: Garica (B) 1-0, Moore (B) 1-20, Robert Dunkley (B) 1-10; FUMBLE RECOVERY: Brandon Bish (B) 1-45; BLOCKED FG: Raiford (B) and Kyle Barron; BLOCKED PAT: Nolan (A)

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 40 years. He was inducted into the New England High School Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2018.

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