AVON LAKE — It had the makings of a classic playoff game.
Midview, trailing by just a touchdown, stopped Avon Lake at the Shoremen 40-yard line with 6:17 to play in the first half. All the Middies had to do was keep the game where it was, regroup at intermission and make a run at the unbeaten Shoremen during the second half.
“We made a nice defensive stand,” Middies coach Bill Albright said. “Then I called a crappy play with that option. It was a bad play-call. It produced the fumble and gave them the momentum right back.”
On second-and-8 from the Midview 42, Adam Koubek — the heart and soul of the Middies — pitched the ball to budding sophomore star Josiah Holt. But Holt didn’t field the ball cleanly and the ever-opportunistic Dave Henderson fell on it for Avon Lake — opening the door for another Shoremen rout.
Avon Lake put a pair of touchdowns on the board before halftime, then continued to increase the space between it and the Middies in rolling up a 50-13 opening-round victory in the Division II, Region 6 quarterfinal.
“That was huge,” said Avon Lake coach Dave Dlugosz. “In fact, the play we ran — all we wanted to do when Mike Haddad broke that long run — we were really trying to set up a play-action pass.”
“That’s kind of been our M.O. all year,” Haddad said. “We did it against Avon (in the season opener). We did it against Dover (in Week 2). That was big for us going into the half.”
It changed the whole complexion of the night. Instead of a one-score game, suddenly the Shoremen were up by three touchdowns. Instead of standing toe-to-toe, Midview found itself behind the eight ball.
Following the turnover, Haddad capped Avon Lake’s eight-play, 41-yard drive by bulldozing into the end zone from the 3-yard line with 2:54 left in the half. With 18 seconds left, Haddad scored again, this time breaking away for a 31-yard touchdown.
Avon Lake took over following an alert punt return by Steve Mares. With the ball bouncing around the 30-yard line, Mares raced in like a shortstop fielding a slow roller, snatched up the ball and sped to midfield before being tackled. Two Nick Firment pass completions and a 9-yard run by Jeff Tell put the ball at the 31-yard line, where Dlugosz called a timeout.
“We thought it might get enough for a first down and stop the clock,” said Dlugosz of Avon Lake’s next play. “Move the chains and give us a shot to throw it into the end zone. The thing just broke. I think we caught (Midview) with some guys inside — we broke that wave — and there wasn’t much left in the secondary.”
“That was great,” said Firment, who threw three TD passes and hooked up with seven different receivers. “For the offense to score in less than a minute — that was a big, big part of (the win). For us to strike that quick, it frees up our defense for the second half.”
Avon Lake — with two
1,000-yard rushers in Haddad and Tell, and a 1,000-yard passer in Firment — simply overwhelmed the Middies. But to Midview’s credit, the players never backed down or quit — they fought hard all night.
“This game didn’t feel like a 50-13 game,” said Haddad. “This game felt like it was close all the way down to the end. (Midview) played a heck of a game.”
“We’re very balanced,” Firment said. “We can hit from anywhere. It’s nice. They don’t know where it’s coming from. There are so many guys we can get it to and so many plays we can run.”
Tell and Haddad each had over 100 yards on the ground, and Firment threw for nearly 200 yards against a Midview defense that had degenerated as the season wore on.
“We have to re-evaluate our defense,” said Albright. “Is it the personnel? Are they out of position? Is it the concept? We have to ask ourselves that question. Really, about midway through the season, our defense fell apart.”
At the outset, Midview stunned Avon Lake with a crisp 10-play, 63-yard drive to take a 7-0 lead. Adam Koubek hit his first four passes — finding Nick Smith free along the sidelines for some nice gains.
“There were some things we saw on film that some other teams had some success with,” Albright said. “Adam had a nice night (96 yards passing,
83 rushing). We just didn’t have enough of it.
“They’re a very good football team. I wish them the best of luck.”
Contact Tim Gebhardt at 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.