A punch in the gut hurts. A lot. It takes all of the air out of you and you feel sore for a couple of days afterwards. But it’s not permanently debilitating. You suck it up and come back stronger knowing what you need to do to avoid that punch the next time.
The Avon Orioles took that solid punch to the midsection last Friday night falling to the top ranked Ben Davis Giants 49-42. Avon dominated both sides of the football for most of the night as the Oriole offense racked up 547 yards against the number one team in the state while the defense limited the Giants to 277 net yards. But Ben Davis, as most champion teams are want to do, made the most of those 277 yards. The Giants racked up 223 yards of offense on just five plays. All five plays resulted in touchdowns for the Giants. Champions make big plays and the Giants made more than their fare share during the game. Add in a 93 yard kickoff return for a score and the final gut busting blow, a 73 yard interception return for a touchdown by Ben Davis’ LeShaun Minor with less than two minutes left to go in the game while Avon was driving for the potential winning score, and the Orioles left Ben Davis Friday night wondering what could have been.
Special teams proved to be particularly troublesome for Coach Bless’ team that night with two plays being responsible for 14 Giants points. Besides the kickoff return for a touchdown, the Orioles muffed a punt that was recovered by Ben Davis that also led to a touchdown.
But the Orioles also left Ben Davis knowing that they gave the defending 6A champions everything they could handle and then some. Avon senior quarterback Brandon Peters threw for 381 yards and 4 touchdowns while scoring one of his own on a 1 yard run. The Orioles ground game was also effective with Avon gaining 166 yards running the football. Junior running back Corey DuPriest rushed for 95 yards including a 55 yard touchdown run. Bryant Fitzgerald and Darian Love also ran the ball effectively. Senior wide receiver Andrew Griffin had 11 catches for 146 yards and 2 touchdowns. Senior Harrison Weber caught 4 passes for 88 yards including one for 65 yards that resulted in an Avon touchdown. Oriole tight end Matt More finished with 116 receiving yards and 1 touchdown.
The Avon defense also proved stingy at times limiting the Giants to only 22 yards on the ground despite the Giants outstanding running back Chris Evans who will join Brandon Peters at the University of Michigan next season. Senior defensive end A.J. Elcock wrecked havoc in the Ben Davis backfield all night long recording 16 tackles, 5 tackles for loss and 3 sacks. The Orioles got to the Ben Davis quarterbacks four times and the defense had 7 tackles for loss in the game.
The loss hurt but the Orioles now understand what they need to work on. Ben Davis head coach Mike Kirschner said afterwards, he was not looking forward to any potential rematch that might occur in October during the IHSAA tournament.
After two non-conference games to begin the season, the Orioles now turn their attention towards defending their Hoosier Crossroads Conference title when they travel to Fishers to take on the Royals of Hamilton Southeastern.
Hamilton Southeastern enters the game with a record of 1-1. After a season opening loss to a Carmel team that began the season as one of the top 5 teams in the state, the Royals bounced back strong last week in a 41-14 blowout over North Central.
The Royals spotted the Panthers a 7-0 lead at the end of the first quarter but ran off 34 straight points before giving up a North Central touchdown midway through the fourth quarter. Senior quarterback Carter Poiry finished the night 16 of 22 for 252 yards and 3 touchdowns without an interception to lead Hamilton Southeastern. Senior tailback David Tsetse rushed for 76 yards on 13 carries including 1 touchdown. Senior fullback Aaron Matio also found the end zone on a 4 yard carry and finished with 41 yards on the ground. Matio was also credited with a receiving touchdown on a swing pass that he took 88 yards to the house. Senior Curtis Goss ran the ball 8 times for 62 yards. Senior wide receiver Greg Miller had 7 catches for 86 yards including a 44 yard touchdown pass from Poiry in the second quarter. Junior tight end Matt Klink was on the receiving end of the other Poiry touchdown pass.
The Royals defense limited the Panthers to 242 yards of total offense. ILB Alec Jessop recorded 10 tackles while DE Collin Miller had 6 tackles including a sack.
The Orioles will look to limit the big plays and tighten up their specials team play tonight against Hamilton Southeastern. The Royals like to run the ball but they will be matched up with an Avon team that has been tough against the run in both of their games this season. Hamilton Southeastern will have to apply pressure to the Avon senior quarterback Peters in much the same way Ben Davis did in the second half bringing one more player than the Orioles could block and hope they can disrupt Peters before he can find a receiver down field.
The game features two of the best coaches the HCC has to offer. Hamilton Southeastern’s Scott May is 70-23 in his 9 seasons at the helm of the Royals with last season being his only losing season as head coach. Avon’s Mark Bless is 41-19 in his 6th year at the helm of the Orioles.
It’s a matchup of two perennial powers in the Hoosier Crossroads Conference and you can watch it all tonight on Audio Sports Online and listen on XRBradio.com. It all begins with the pregame show at 6:30 p.m. Then join me and my broadcast partner the Indiana Football Hall-of-Famer Dave Shelbourne for all the action with the kickoff set for 7:00 p.m.