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Season opener with RHAM suspended due to lightning, rain

NIk Meltser, left, celebrates after Carter Davies’ successful two-point conversion run in Saturday’s CCC Tier III game with RHAM.

AVON, Sept. 9, 2023 – A year ago, the Avon High football team fell one win short of earning a second straight berth to the CIAC Class M tournament.

RHAM, the team that helped keep the Falcons out of the playoffs with a 14-point victory in week nine, was in town on Saturday for the season opening game for both teams.

But the weather didn’t cooperate with lightning and heavy rain suspending play with 7:10 left in the third quarter. The two teams waited for two hours for the lightning and thunder to stop but it never did so the teams will play on another day that is still to be determined.

RHAM holds a 27-8 lead thanks to Raptor quarterback Brady Hilland throwing four touchdown passes to Joshua Weeks, who caught seven passes for 94 yards before the game was suspended.

Avon led 8-0 after an impressive first drive of the game to take the lead. The Falcons marched 76 yards on 11 plays to take the lead on a one-yard run from David Minami. The big plays on the drive were a 52-yard run from Carter Davies on the first offensive play of the season and a three-yard run on fourth down from Derek Graves that kept the drive alive.

But mistakes hurt the Falcons. Leading by two, 8-6, Avon coughed up the ball on their own 11-yard line with 4:18 left in the first half. RHAM scored three plays later on an 11-yard touchdown reception across the middle to Weeks for a 13-8 lead.

RHAM held Avon on their next drive and the Falcons had to punt from their own 38-yard line. But the snap sailed over the head of Falcon punter Ryan Christopher and the Raptors recovered on the Avon nine-yard line. RHAM scored on the next play for a 20-8 lead with 1:14 left in the first half.

In the second half, Avon was set to open the half with the ball but the squib kickoff bounced off an Avon defender and right into the hands of Raptor receiver Joseph Fahey.

On the next play, Hubbard found Weeks, who maneuvered through the Avon defense for a 46-yard touchdown reception and a 27-8 lead.

Avon had a nice drive going when the game was suspended. They had three first downs and had driven to the RHAM 32-yard line.

The Falcons will be deploying their run-oriented single-wing offense this season. They return eight starters on offense, including a majority of the offensive line from a team that went 5-5 and was one win shy of the CIAC playoffs. Nik Meltser, who ran for 398 yards and three touchdowns last year, is the top returning back along key blocking back Andrew Sielski.

But they also have John Murphy, David Minami and the speedy Carter Davies, who ran for 52 yards on his first run from scrimmage.

Defensively, the unit isn’t as experienced with just four starters returning. But second-year head coach Brandon Smith is optimistic about the season.

“I think this group can really accomplish whatever they set their mind to,” Smith said. “That has been the message from us so far.

“The strength of this team is the offensive line and returning so many offensive linemen and Meltzer, a dynamic back to run the ball, I think we know we can do great things if limiting our mistakes.”

Playing in CCC Tier III, the schedule changed a bit this season. Avon dropped contests against Class S finalist Bloomfield and Class M playoff participant Berlin and picked up games against South Windsor and E.O. Smith.

Avon hosts rival Farmington at home on October 20 on the turf field and they close out the regular season on Tuesday, Nov. 21 by hosting Lewis Mills on Thanksgiving week.

“The goal for this year is to make the playoffs,” Smith said. “We all know were on the doorstep of that last year.”

2023 schedule
Sept. 14: at East Catholic; 23: at East Lyme, 6:30 p.m.; 29: PLATT, 6 p.m.
Oct: 6: at E.O. Smith, 6; 20: FARMINGTON, 6 p.m.; 27: at Rocky Hill, 6:30 p.m.
Nov. 2: SOUTH WINDSOR, 6 p.m., 10: At Bristol Eastern, 6:30 p.m. 21: LEWIS MILLS, 6 p.m.

RHAM 27, Avon 8 (suspended)
At Avon
RHAM (0-0)        0  20  7  x – xx
Avon (0-0)           8    0  0  x  –xx
First quarter
A: David Minami 1 run (Carter Davies run), 0:48
Second quarter
RHAM: Joshua Weers 13 pass from Brady Hulland (pass fails), 4:18
RHAM: Weers 20 pass from Hulland (Mason Little kick), 3:00
RHAM: Weers 9 pass from Hulland (Little kick), 1:14
Third quarter
RHAM: Weers 46 pass from Hullard (Little kick), 11:45
Game suspended with 7:10 left in the third quarter

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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