By Gerry deSimas Jr.
BRISTOL >> For the Avon High football team, its opening day loss to Canton stung deeply. The Warriors beat Avon for the first time ever, scoring on the final play of the game to earn a 16-13 victory.
Head coach Jim Caouette said the team was still feeling the effects when practice resumed a few days later. But he credited his coaching staff for getting the Falcons to snap out of it and focus on the challenges that lay ahead of them.
“We got better as the week went on,” Caouette said. “I have to give my coaches credit. (The players) began to focus and work harder on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. The coaches stepped up the intensity.”
Poor Lewis Mills was in the way of Avon’s redemption tour.
The Spartans are building a program and while they have several seniors, they are a young team. They were no match for Avon in a 35-0 loss on Saturday afternoon at Muzzy Field.
Avon running back Jimmy Murphy scored three touchdowns and ran for a game-high 93 yards on 10 carries. He was a hard man to bring down, frequently breaking tackles. Defensively, he had several tackles and recovered a fumble.
Murphy also recovered a fumble and had a sack that were negated due to Avon penalties.
By the end of the game, Mills (0-2, 0-1 Pequot West) had lost four starting players including quarterback Collin Thorn, who broke a finger late in the first half. Trevor Watts, a leading receiver and kickoff returner, was injured along with linebacker/guard Cam McHale and offensive/defensive tackle Keith Millum.
Mills was able to make a few plays but nothing that enabled them to come close to scoring nor stopping Avon. “We got punched in the mouth hard today and we didn’t punch back,” Santana said.
Caouette said that Avon gave away the game against Canton with three turnovers (two fumbles and an interception) and drives into the red zone (inside the 20-yard line) that came away with no points.
“Today, we finished drives and we were pretty tough on defense. I think we’re going in the right direction,” he said.
Avon took a 7-0 lead on its first drive, matching 48 plays in seven plays. Teddy Allemingder scored on an 11-yard run. The key play was a 22-yard gain by Murphy on fourth down and one at the Mills 42-yard line.
Murphy made it 14-0 on a one-yard run with 1:46 left in the first quarter. The key play was a 19-yard run by Murphy to the one. Murphy also scored on runs of six yards and 28 yards as Avon led 28-0 at halftime.
It could have been more. Avon had two touchdown passes by QB Noah Hahn to Justin Reichler and a fumble recovery for a touchdown called back due to penalties.
The Falcons hope to build upon this momentum this weekend when they host Nonnewaug (1-0) on Saturday at 1 p.m. Last week, the Chiefs beat Haddam-Killingworth, 26-6, behind two touchdown runs from Nick Bordierre and Trevor Scappatura, who scored a touchdown on a 65-yard punt return. Nonnewaug middle linebacker R.J. Burke had an interception and 10 tackles.
The task will get tougher next week. Avon will hit the road to face Valley Regional/Old Lyme under the lights in Deep River on Friday, Oct. 4. The Warriors, who are receiving votes in the state top 10 polls, have a veteran team returning led by running back Justin Cheverier.
Touted as a favorite to the Pequot Conference’s Southern Division and earn a spot in the Class M state tournament, Valley has already an impressive 34-0 win over Hyde and a 61-6 rout of Coginchaug. Cheverier ran for four TDs and 170 yards on just six carries against the Blue Devils.
But first, Nonnewaug awaits the Falcons.
NOTES: The players on the Falcons gave Caouette an early shower in the waning minutes of the Mills game, dumping the icy contents of a water cooler on him to celebrate his first career victory. … It was Avon’s first game at Muzzy Field since the 2009 Class L semifinals where they lost to Berlin, 35-28. … Mills has now lost 12 straight games dating back to the 2011 campaign.
Avon 35, Lewis Mills 0
Avon (1-1) 14 14 7 0 – 35
Lewis Mills (0-2) 0 0 0 0 — 0
A: Teddy Allmendinger 11 run (John Burdick kick), 6:13
A: Jimmy Murphy 1 run (Burdick kick), 1:46
A: Murphy 6 run (Burdick kick), 10:05
A: Murphy 28 run (Burdick kick), 4:42
A: Stephen Griffin 2 run (Burdick kick), 8:03
RUSHING: Avon – Noah Hahn 5-23, Jimmy Murphy 10-93, Stephen Griffin 5-30, Teddy Allmendinger 3-46; Nick Baldwin 5-23; Mills – Lucas Lanning 4-7, Artis Artemiadis 1-14, Cullin Kennedy 1-0, Max Stone 7-2, Collin Thorn 3-minus 6, Hayden Marci 1-1
PASSING: Avon – Noah Hahn 10-19-1, 94, Dom DeBerardino 2-5-0, 13; Lewis Mills – Collin Thorn 6-11-0, 93; Trevor Blake 0-2-0, Lucas Lanning 4-9-0, 21
RECEIVING: Avon – Jimmy Murphy 2-6, Anthony Agli 2-24, Dylan Marquis 2-2, Justin Reichler 2-45, Robert Bujwid 1-9, Sean DelGallo 1-4, Geoff Kirk 1-8; Lewis Mills – Trevor Watts 5-45, Justin Pease 1-15, Dominik Jankowski 1-15, Artis Artemiadis 2-7, Nate Cook 1-12
RETURNS: Kickoffs – Watts (LM) 2-37, Stone (LM) 2-33; Punts – Marquis (A) 2-11, Bujwid 1-4
SACKS: Gabe Folkwein (A) 1-10, Justin Reichler and Allmendinger (A) 1-9; INTERCEPTIONS: Matt Rinkus (LM) 1-4; FUMBLE RECOVERIES: Murphy (A), Jamie Dlugolecki (A)