Avon Eagles look to get back to state championship

MORNING JOURNAL/JIM BOBEL Avon’s Ross Douglas hopes to lead the Eagles to another deep playoff run this season.

It would be easy for Avon to look past their opponent tonight when the Eagles host Perrysburg in the first round of the Division II playoffs.

After all, the Eagles are coming off a season where they were the state runner-up last season. After losing their first game of the season, Avon ripped off nine straight victories and won the West Shore Conference outright.

While it might be easy for them to overlook tonight’s opponent, head coach Mike Elder said that won’t happen.

“We’ve talked about it all year long that every year is a different year. This is a completely different team than it was last year,” Elder said. “There are no guarantees. It was a great run last year, but the bottom line is it’s win or go home.”

This is the third straight season the Eagles have hosted a playoff game. Two years ago they were the number one seed in their region only to lose on their home field, 42-35 to Sandusky, and see their perfect season end prematurely.

While Perrysburg comes into this season without the playoff experience of the Eagles, as this will be the Yellow Jackets second time in the postseason and they’ve never won a playoff game, they believe their ready for the challenge.

“We’ve been in a number of big games this season already,” Perrysburg coach Matt Kregel said. “We’ve been in three or four championship type games already this season. We beat Sylvania Southview, who has been in the state finals several times, in the last couple minutes of the game. We pulled out a win against Clay early in the year with a blocked extra point with a minute left.

“We’re playing our best football right now, and we’re peaking at the right time. Our kids know a good team when they see one, yet we’ve played good teams already.”

The Eagles have a rushing attack led by senior Ross Douglas who averaged 9.1 yards per carry this season and has scored 19 rushing TDs.

Avon can also throw the ball around the field. Starting quarterback David Zeh has thrown for 1,776 yards and 21 touchdowns, with just 7 interceptions.

“Avon is obviously very talented, especially Douglas and Ralph Smith, at receiver,” Kregel said. “They’ve got several running backs who appear to be really good players. They’ve got a big offensive line and a big tight end. They’ve definitely got some big kids.”

At first glance, it would appear that all the Eagles have to do to win tonight is stop Yellow Jackets senior dual-threat quarterback Steve Slocum, who has rushed for 1,183 and thrown for 1,261 yards.

“They’re a very good football team. When you’re in the playoffs, obviously, everyone is good,” Elder said. “Offensively they have an outstanding running game, led by their quarterback, along with two running backs and a big offensive line. They’re a very good defense that likes to play a lot of man-to-man coverage and challenge you to run the football. They’re good in all three phases of the game.”

The Skinny

Avon Eagles

Conference: West Shore Conference (1st)

Coach: Mike Elder

Playoff appearances: 6 (state runner up in 2011)

State Championships: None

Leaders: Passing — David Zeh (114 of 215, 1,775 yards, 21 TDs, 7 Ints.); Rushing — Ross Douglas (108 carries, 980 yards, 19 TDs); Receiving — Ralph Smith (27 receptions, 566 yards, 7 TDs); Tackles — Kevin Skotko 77, Cory Ohradzansky 67; Sacks — Domonic Bodnar 4.5, Ohradzanksy 4.5; Interceptions — Logan Juhl 4.

2012 Eagles schedule

Aug. 24 at Avon Lake, L 28-42

Aug. 31 vs. Wellington, W 33-0

Sept. 7 at Lorain, W 44-14

Sept. 14 vs. Lakewood, W 35-3

Sept. 21 vs. Bay, W 42-7

Sept. 28 at Elyria Catholic, W 45-14

Oct. 5 at Midview, W 28-0

Oct. 12 vs. Vermilion, W 49-20

Oct. 19 at Rocky River, W 42-21

Oct. 26 vs. North Ridgeville, W 41-7

Tonight vs. Perrysburg, playoffs

Perrysburg Yellow Jackets

Conference: Northern Lakes (2nd)

Coach: Matt Kregel

Playoff appearances: 2 (2007, 2012)

State Championships: None

2012 Yellowjackets schedule

Aug. 24 at Bowsher, W 49-18

Aug. 31 at Clay, W 24-23

Sept. 7 vs. Central Catholic, L 7-35

Sept. 14 at Springfield, W 50-28

Sept. 21 at Anthony Wayne, W 31-7

Sept. 28 vs. Sylvania Southview, W 23-16

Oct. 5 vs. Sylvania Northview, W 51-8

Oct. 12 at Napoleon, L 34-35

Oct. 19 vs. Bowling Green, W 63-7

Oct. 26 vs. Maumee, W 55-26

Nov. 2 at Avon, playoffs

@MJ_smahoney

Last Updated: 11/1/2012 10:06:03 PM EST

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