By Chris Metcalf
AVON – Avon head coach Andy Englert and his staff were a work in progress this season.
From the moment they stepped on the field in pre-season, they had many moving pieces and some major adjustments they needed to fix.
All is well once again in Braves Country.
After starting the season dropping their first game of the year to Canisteo-Greenwood, the Braves have won six of their last seven games to earn the No. 2 seed in the Section V Class D playoffs. where they will host No. 3 C-G Friday night at 7 p.m.
Since their 12-7 setback in the opener, Avon has gone on to outscore their next seven opponents 217-82, including a 40-0 blowout victory over defending sectional champ Oakfield-Alabama/Elba on the Aggies’ senior night and regular-season finale.
The Braves (6-2) will take on a C-G Chargers team they have split their two meetings with this season, with each team winning on the road.
They defeated C-G in Canisteo 25-20 on Oct. 6, evening the series at 1-1.
Friday is the tiebreaker, and the winner will play for the Class D title Nov. 10 against the winner of No. 1 York/Pavilion and No. 5 Notre Dame.
Avon has won five Section V championships under Englert.
He knows Friday will be another battle.
“It’s always hard playing someone three times and especially splitting with them during the course of the season,” Englert said. “Our Class D schedule was crazy this year, playing teams home and away. C-G has great athletes and they are well-coached. It will be a really tough challenge.”
Avon’s offense is geared around senior QB Chris Thompson and junior RB Wesley Farley, who have combined for over 1,500 yards and 21 touchdowns on the ground.
Thompson has carried the ball 133 times for 844 yards (8.9 avg) and 11 touchdowns while Farley has run 133 times for 744 yards (5.6 avg) and 10 touchdowns.
The Braves will put the ball in the air too as Thompson has thrown 108 passes, completing 55 of those, for 844 yards and eight TDs.
His favorite target is sophomore Kalman Dolgos, the Week 8 Offensive Player of the Week, who has caught 30 of those balls for 366 yards and six scores. Dolgos averages 18 yards a reception.
Farley has also caught 16 passes for 133 yards and another TD.
Defensively, Thompson leads the team with 57 tackles (10 for a loss) and three INTs while Farley has 52 tackles and a fumble recovery.
Junior Travis Hollada has added 51 tackles with two sacks while senior Remy Greenwood and junior Brady Driscoll have registered 39 and 37 tackles respectively.
Greenwood has also added three INTs and Driscoll one sack.
Junior Connor Smith has 34 tackles and one sack while Dolgos has 29 stops and two picks.
Earning a bye in last week’s quarterfinals gave Englert and his Braves a chance to concentrate on some basic fundamentals moving forward.
“Having a bye was different, we’ve never had that before,” Englert said. “It gave us time to adjust the practice schedule and a chance to work on some basic skills we needed to improve on.”
Englert is excited for his seniors to play one final game on their home field, on what should be a big stage Friday night.
“Playing at home in the semifinals has been around for a few years,” Englert said. “We have been lucky to do that before. It’s great for our seniors to get another game on our home turf. It’s hard to think this will be the last game for them on this turf as the Braves too.”
With the top prize still a week ahead, Englert is excited for his team to have this opportunity in front of them.
“Coming off the bye week will be interesting to see how our team will respond,” he said. “Last time we played was versus OAE so they are looking forward to the game. We need to play hard, the last two times we played C-G it came down to the end, so it should be another good one.”
Nobody loves planning a fire truck parade for his sports teams more than Englert, also Avon’s athletic director.
He would love to make one more call on the night of Nov. 10.
Photos by Danette DeNoto