BRUNSWICK — While Avon’s season once again ended at the hands of Akron Archbishop Hoban on Friday night, Joey Lance gave the Eagles a glimpse of the future.
The junior receiver piled up 105 total yards in the 42-7 loss at Brunswick High School, leading the team in receiving with eight catches for 64 yards after entering the game with just 20 catches for 220 yards and three touchdowns.
“He’s a great player, and he’s a player that — he and I have had some philosophical differences throughout the year — but he’s really grown as a young man and I expect big things out of him next year,” Avon coach Mike Elder said. “He’s going to take the next step as a leader because he’s a heck of a football player, as you saw tonight.”
He was also the team’s second-leading rusher with 11 carries for 41 yards, stepping up with leading rusher Nick Perusek nursing an injury. Perusek, who entered with 1,276 yards and 14 touchdowns on 131 attempts, had one carry for a loss of 2 yards.
“I knew this team was good, so you have to fight for every yard you can get,” Lance said of the Knights. “You’ve got to work your butt off because they’re not going to give you much. I came out and tried to do that. I think we played pretty well.”
It took Lance, and the Avon offense, awhile to get going, but he came up big on a 13-yard catch to set up Avon with a fourth-and-12 in the final seconds of the first half. The Eagles were put in the 25-yard hole thanks to a personal foul/late hit two plays before.
Avon couldn’t convert on ourth down, however, and the Knights took a 21-0 lead into the locker room.
Lance had a golden opportunity to get into the end zone on Avon’s opening drive of the second half, breaking wide open for what would have been a 56-yard touchdown, but the pass fell through his hands.
“I just dropped it,” Lance said. “Got to play the next play, I just messed up.”
He shook it off to get 8 yards on back-to-back runs a few plays later, bringing Avon to the Hoban 30-yard line. Quarterback Ryan Maloy then found Ryan Jones for a 24-yard touchdown, cutting the deficit to 14.
Lance finished the game strong — pitching in a 9-yard catch on a drive that ended in a turnover after the Eagles reached the Hoban 15-yard line.
The Knights scored on the next play and Avon got back to work, with Lance catching three passes on the ensuing drive for a combined 36 yards, each reception going for at least 9 yards.
“He’s going to be a player to watch next year,” Maloy said of Lance. “He’s an extremely gifted player. He has a lot of talent and brings a lot of energy to the offensive and defensive side of the ball. Definitely next year I’d have an eye out on that kid.”
Hoban junior defensive back DeaMonte Trayanum — who has offers from Ohio State, Michigan, Notre Dame and West Virginia — almost ended the drive with an interception in the end zone while covering Lance, however he had to push off the receiver to create the necessary space to do so.
The flag set up Avon on the Hoban 10-yard line, but the Eagles turned it over on downs.
“He’s a good wide receiver,” Trayanum said. “I just knew I had to expect ball every play. The first half they threw away from me, so I had to be ready to make some plays in the second half and not fall asleep.”
Contact Chris Sweeney at 329-7135or email@example.com and follow him @CSweeneyCT on Twitter.