Elder: ‘Expectations remain the same’ this season for Avon

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Avon Eagles

Avon was the No. 1 seed in Region 10 of
Division III last year and won a pair of playoff games before falling to Sunbury Big Walnut in the regional finals. This year, the Eagles move up to D-II. Avon returns a solid squad
and could be in the mix for a playoff bid despite some key losses.

The following is a look at the 2009 Avon Eagles


Avon (12-1)

* Players To Watch – RB/LB Zak Wearsch (6-1, 205,
Sr.), C Jake Shagovak (6-0, 210, Sr.), LB Josh Conrad (5-10, 200, Sr.), WR/CB
Brandon Mahaffey (6-1, 175, Sr.), SS Patrick Furnas (5-10, 185, Jr.)

* Outlook – Avon was the No. 1 seed in Region 10 of
Division III last year and won a pair of playoff games (over Defiance and Tiffin
Columbian) before falling to Sunbury Big Walnut in the regional finals.

This year, the Eagles move up to Division II and they will
do so without graduated quarterback Ryan O’Rourke (who will play college
football at Slippery Rock) and graduated strong safety Garrett Gronowski
(Eastern Michigan). The latter had two interceptions in the 2009 Ohio
North-South Classic and was named MVP of the game.

However, despite those losses, Avon returns a solid squad
and could be in the mix for a playoff bid. The team will be led by Wearsch who
is entering his third season as a starter. But this year he will have a
much-larger role as the main ball carrier at tailback. In 2008 playing fullback,
he had 295 rushing yards (4.3 yards per carry) and two touchdowns. He also had
14 receptions for 178 yards (12.7 yards per catch) and five touchdowns.

“We expect Zak to have a big year,” head coach Mike Elder
said. “He’s the real deal. He’s fast and powerful. He would’ve had better
numbers last year, but we had a senior running back that went for over 1,000
yards.”

Shagovak returns as the starting center and might also play
some defensive line this season.

“Jake is a scholarship-worthy kid,” Elder said.

Conrad is a three-year starter and last season he had 64
tackles, four tackles-for-loss, one sack and one forced fumble.

Mahaffey is a returning starter at cornerback where he had
two interceptions last year. He will also play wide receiver this year.

Furnas was the fourth-leading tackler on the team last year
(66) including seven for loss. He also had a sack, a fumble recovery and an
interception.

Elder is not sure who will replace O’Rourke as the starting
quarterback.

“We have four guys competing for the spot,” he said.

As for moving up to Division II, the coach is ready for the
challenge.

“I was fine with it,” Elder said. “There are great football
teams in every division. We’re playing Avon Lake every year starting next year.
Our enrollment is growing. We’re a small D-II now, but we could be a large D-II
in a couple years. No matter what division you’re in, you are going to face darn
good teams playing Ohio high school football.

“So, our expectations remain the same. We want to be a
physical football team and if we accomplish that goal then we’ll be a playoff
team. Then you just want to win each week from there and winning a state title
is always the goal.”

However, Elder knows the road will be tough and then some.

“We have a lot of young guys that are going to be playing
and we definitely have our work cut out for us,” he said. “If we mature quickly,
we could be good. I will say this: the next two years look bright for the
Eagles. We’re going to have 15 or 16 returning starters next year.”

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Schedule

Aug. 28, Aurora, 7:30 p.m.

Sept. 4, at Wellington, 7:30 p.m.

Sept. 11, Lorain Admiral King, 7:30 p.m.

Sept. 18, at Rocky River, 7:30 p.m.

Sept. 25, North Ridgeville, 7:30 p.m.

Oct. 2, Vermilion, 7:30 p.m.

Oct. 9, at Oberlin Firelands, 7:30 p.m.

Oct. 16, at Grafton Midview, 7:30 p.m.

Oct. 23, Fairview Park Fairview, 7:30 p.m.

Oct. 30, at Bay Village, 7:30 p.m.

 

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