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Football -- Avon vs. Avon Lake

On 8-25-07, one play at a time

Shoremen Beat Eagles

NEWS ARTICLE from The Morning Journal, 8-2-07, by ALAN INGRAM, Morning Journal Writer

[Avon vs. Avon Lake on the gridiron for first time in 50 years]

''AVON -- It won't just be the people in the stands and on the sidelines watching when the Avon and Avon Lake football teams kick off their seasons later this month.

FSN Ohio will broadcast the game between the teams, who are squaring off on the gridiron for the first time in nearly 50 years. The venue might also appear familiar to those watching -- they'll play at Cleveland Browns Stadium during the second half of a doubleheader on Aug. 25 [2007]. The air time for the game has yet to be determined.

Between 10,000 and 20,000 people are expected to attend to see both high school games, said Pete Fitzpatrick, president of Home Team Marketing, the company in charge of putting on The Charity Game doubleheader. Also playing earlier in the day are Notre Dame Cathedral Latin and Benedictine.

''We were really excited,'' 17-year-old Avon High School senior John Harrison said. ''We know it's going to be a great experience for our team and all the players on it.''

The game will renew a long-term rivalry between the two schools, Avon Lake head coach Dave Dlugosz said. The two squads faced off 26 times from 1939 to 1960. The last time they played, Avon Lake won, 26-0, Dlugosz said. The Shoremen also hold the advantage overall, winning 15.

''I think it's exciting for our entire community,'' first year Avon High School head coach Mike Elder said, adding that it's a good opportunity whenever high schoolers can play on television and in a professional stadium.

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Avon Lake's teams have played in big games before, Dlugosz said. However, each team is different, and there is concern over things like the players' nerves, turnovers and penalties. The team plans to take it one play at a time, he said.

Dlugosz called the Avon Eagles a ''mystery team'' since it has a new coach, new offense and new defense, he said. ''It definitely presents some challenges for us,'' he added.

Elder said the match up is appealing because of the quality of the Avon Lake Shoremen's program, he said. It will provide a good test for his team, he added. ''We'd like to emulate their program someday because they've had such great success,'' he said.

Even though the Shoremen football program is well respected, Harrison said that does not mean the Eagles do not have a chance to win. The Eagles understand the Shoremen will be favored to win, but are using that doubt to make them work harder.

Fellow Avon senior Tyler Irwin, 17, also said Avon Lake's program is good. ''I hope it's going to be a good, hard fought football game,'' he said. ''We're going to have to step it up for this game.'' The team is excited for the match up, he said, adding that it will not just be another game.

Avon Lake senior Nick Firment, 17, said he hopes his team approaches the match up like any other game, but the differences will be in the back of their minds. He doesn't think it will affect their play, however. ''It's just another game, another opponent,'' he said, though he did add it is a once in a lifetime opportunity to play in Browns Stadium and on television.

Fellow Avon Lake senior, Sean Oxley, 16, said the shared border between the towns creates a rivalry between the two teams. Some players from each team also work out together. The historical rivalry also ''never really dies out,'' he said.

Tickets will be available at the schools, through Ticketmaster and at Cleveland Browns Stadium, Fitzpatrick said.

Presale tickets will cost $10, and grant admission to both games and a fireworks show, Fitzpatrick said. Tickets at the stadium will cost $12.

The game is a nonprofit event, he said, adding that The Charity Game doubleheader primarily benefits the Plain Dealer Charities. The teams also receive money.

The principal at each school also nominated a student to receive a $1,000 scholarship, Fitzpatrick said. It will be awarded on the field, between the games ...''

aingram@morningjournal.com

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NEWS ARTICLE from The Morning Journal, 8-26-07, By JOEL HAMMOND, Morning Journal Correspondent

``CLEVELAND -- As Avon wide receiver Brett Jensen streaked down the visiting sideline at Cleveland Browns Stadium, in the midst of taking a Ryan O'Rourke pass 87 yards for a touchdown on the Eagles' first offensive play, Avon Lake fullback Mike Haddad gained a new focus.

"That woke us up," Haddad said. "That showed us they were here to play. Well, we were here to play, too."

The Shoremen (1-0) looked wide awake from that point on, running for 360 yards in the first half of a 50-25 victory in front of 5,941 fans. The game was the neighboring schools' first meeting since a 26-0 Avon Lake win in 1960.

Haddad ran for 179 yards on 17 carries, including four touchdowns. He was named the game's most valuable player.

"That's the kind of offense we like to run. We like to grind them down," he said. "Our offensive line was so physical. (Playing in Browns Stadium) was so amazing, words can't even describe it."

O'Rourke had much the same reaction to the big stage, and had it not been for Haddad, he may have been the game's MVP. The junior quarterback threw for 306 yards and two touchdowns on 12-of-25 passing.

"I didn't know it would be like this," O'Rourke said of the crowd and the atmosphere. "I've been looking forward to this for six or seven months. Playing on an NFL field -- How do you think it feels? It was awesome."

"(The opening touchdown pass) was a big rush. That was huge for us to get up like that, but they're a tough team."

After Avon Lake answered O'Rourke's strike with the first of Haddad's three first-half scores, O'Rourke threw an 8-yard fade to Kyle Gregory for a 13-7 lead. O'Rourke hit on his first five passes.

The Shoremen owned the rest of the half, though, scoring 22 straight points. Scott Shaffer kicked off that spurt with a 15-yard run, but an Avon Lake fumble on its next possession set up the Eagles at the Shoremen 15.

Seeing a big momentum swing, O'Rourke was instead victimized by an acrobatic, goal-line interception by Avon Lake's Dan Weimer. The Shoremen subsequently drove 96 yards in 11 plays and scored on a 7-yard pass from Nick Firment to Ryan Scherer. Two plays later, Avon Lake was set up at the Avon 23 after a fumble, and Haddad capitalized with a 14-yard touchdown for a 16-point lead.

"Give Avon credit. They caught us on our heels," Avon Lake coach Dave Dlugosz said. "I thought our offense came right back and established our physicality. On defense, our coverage got better, but our pressure got better, also."

Avon cut the lead to 29-19 with 2:23 to go in the half, using a 69-yard pass from O'Rourke to Matt Logan to set up a 1-yard touchdown run by Bryent Robertson. Haddad, though, stopped any momentum the Eagles had with a 60-yard touchdown run with 1:22 left in the half. That gave Avon Lake a 36-19 halftime lead.

Haddad ran 14 times for 156 yards in the first half and finished with 179 yards on 17 carries. Shoremen tailback Jeff Tell gained 123 first-half yards and 152 for the game. The Shoremen ran for 510 yards on 53 carries, for an average of 9.6 per carry.

First-year Avon coach Mike Elder was also pleased with his team's effort despite the defeat.

"Initially we were able to stand in, but that's a physical team, and an indication of where we want to go," Elder said. "We'll get there, I promise. I wonder, 'do I have a group of kids that will play hard every play?' And we've got that."

Avon Lake senior Patrick Finnegan and Avon senior Sruti Ramadugu were chosen by their schools as recipients of $1,000 scholarships given in conjunction with the game.

The 2006 version of the doubleheader at Browns Stadium, featuring Glenville, Mentor, Strongsville and Solon, raised $91,000 and drew 16,250 fans. Each of those schools received $7,500, with $50,000 going to charities.

The Charity Game served as the Cleveland City Championship from 1931-1968 ... Cleveland Benedictine beat Notre Dame-Cathedral Latin in yesterday's opener, 28-7. Officials listed the day's total attendance at 9,580.''

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NEWS ARTICLE from The Chronicle-Telegram, 8-26-07, by Tim Gebhardt

``With Browns away, Shoremen and Eagles get to play

When they said there would be fireworks at the annual charity game at Cleveland Browns Stadium on Saturday, they weren't kidding.

Avon and Avon Lake treated nearly 6,000 fans to early explosions before the Shoremen wore down the Eagles to claim a 50-25 win.

It was the first time the neighboring schools have played since 1960. Avon scored first on its first offensive play from scrimmage as junior quarterback Ryan O'Rourke hit junior wide receiver Brett Jensen in stride for an 87-yard score. The teams combined for 27 first-quarter points.

"It was such a rush to get on top of a team like that," said O'Rourke, who threw for 312 yards and two scores. "Avon Lake is such a good team. I didn't know that's what we were going to do (on the first play), but I'm glad we did it."

"The kids are still in awe of this place," said Avon Lake coach Dave Dlugosz.

"This is amazing," said Avon Lake's Mike Haddad, who scored four touchdowns and ran for 167 yards in being named the game's MVP. "You'd think you come here and it's an empty stadium. Our fans were loud, and it was just great."''

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NEWS ARTICLE from The Chronicle-Telegram, 8-26-07, by Tim Gebhardt

``High school football: Avon Lake wears down Avon

CLEVELAND -- If you like your football with a lot of offense, you loved the Avon Lake-Avon battle in the annual charity game at Cleveland Browns Stadium on Saturday night.

The two teams put on a first-half slugfest before the Shoremen pulled away for a 50-25 win in a renewal of a rivalry that was last played in 1960. Avon hit Avon Lake first with an 87-yard strike from junior quarterback Ryan O'Rourke to junior wideout Brett Jensen with 9:16 still to play for a 6-0 lead. O'Rourke threw for 312 yards on the night -- 248 coming in the first half. He also threw a pair of TD strikes.

"They caught our guys on their heels a little bit," said veteran Avon Lake coach Dave Dlugosz. "They hit the pass and (Jensen) took it to the house. The thing I enjoyed most about that was our offense coming right back with a nice long drive establishing the physicality of Avon Lake."

The Shoremen running game was at its textbook best. Mike Haddad, the game's MVP, ran for 167 yards and four touchdowns, and backfield mate Jeff Tell added another 159 yards. Avon Lake amassed 518 yards on the ground with two other backs -- Mike Mansnerus and Scott Shaffer -- getting more than 70 yards each.

"They better thank the offensive line," Dlugosz said. "They did a pretty good job. (Avon) was shooting linebackers all over the place and I'd say 90 percent of the time we were pretty successful on picking them up."

The teams battled back-and-forth through a wild first quarter. Both teams scored twice with only a missed extra-point the difference. Avon had successfully hit the point-after but a procedure penalty forced the Eagles to attempt the kick again. This time they missed. Avon Lake started to pull away in the second quarter when Haddad scored twice, the last on a 60-yard run that put the Shoremen up 36-19 at halftime.

"That woke us up," Haddad said of Avon's early score. "We're here to play too. We knew they were here to play and we live every play like it could be our last. We brushed it off and came back."

"We've got a pretty good quarterback," Avon coach Mike Elder said. "Ryan's one of the best around, there's no question about that, and he made a great throw. We wanted to start out throwing the ball deep and it worked out for us.

"Initially, we were able to stand in there toe-to-toe. Avon Lake's a good football program. I have nothing but respect for Coach Dlugosz. To be honest, this game was won in the offseason. That's a big, strong team.

It's an indication where we need to go." Avon Lake's grinding, power football eventually was the difference. Haddad and Tell took turns on punishing runs, finding open holes in the Avon defense.

"That's the kind of offense we run," Haddad said. "We like to grind 'em, run 'em down. By the second half, they're not going to want us anymore. "We just run at them, the holes open up and we're good to go."

Avon Lake 50, Avon 25

Avon ....... 13 6 0 6 -- 25

Avon Lake .. 14 22 7 7 -- 50

Scoring

AVON -- Brett Jensen 87 pass from Ryan O'Rourke (kick failed)

AL -- Mike Haddad 3 run (Joe Prendergast kick)

AVON -- Kyle Gregory 7 pass from O'Rourke (Marquis Harrell kick)

AL -- Nick Brill 15 run (Prendergast kick)

AL -- Ryan Scherer 7 pass from Nick Firment (Prendergast kick)

AL--Haddad 14 run (Patrick Stokes pass Firment)

AVON -- Bryent Robertson 1 run (pass failed)

AL -- Haddad 60 run (Prendergast kick)

AL -- Haddad 5 run (Prendergast kick)

AL -- Mike Mansnerus 1 run (Prendergast kick)

AVON -- Dan Stotko 1 run (kick failed)

Team statistics

........... AVON AL

First downs 11 19

" by rushing 0 18

" by passing 10 1

" by penalty 1 0

Yards rushing 33 518

Yards passing 313 50

Total offense 245 558

Passes att./comp. 27/13 10/6

Intercepted by 0 1

Fumbles/lost 1/1 2/1

Penalties/yards 2/10 6/35

Individual statistics

RUSHING: (Avon) Marquis Harrell 9-17, James Schuster 6-7, Ryan O'Rourke 3-0, Dan Stotko 5-11, Bryent Robertson 1-1, Matt Mentler 1-(-6), Zak Wearsch 1-6, Emery Rowe 1-(-2);

(AL) Mike Haddad 17-167, Jeff Tell 14-159, Kevin Mansnerus 2-27, Scott Shaffer 6-71, Nick Firment 2-0, Alex Jones 3-8, Pete Hart 1-(-11), Mike Mansnerus 4-88, Gentry Rohn 3-(-4), Jordan Cooper 2-2.

PASSING: (AVON) Ryan O'Rourke 13-25-313-2-1;

(AL) Nick Firment 6-10-50-1-0.

RECEIVING: AVON) Brett Jensen 1-87, Kyle Gregory 5-53, Marquis Harrell 1-23, Matt Logan 1-69, James Schuster 1-4, John Harrison 2-39, Tyler Irwin 1-14;

(AL) Mike Haddad 1-11, Ryan Scherer 2-18, Eric Cail 1-9, Sean Oxley 1-9, Peyton Armbrecht 1-1.

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NEWS ARTICLE from The Plain Dealer, 8-30-07, by FOOTBALL INSIDER

Rebirth of rivalry is joyous

When Avon Lake defeated Avon, 50-25, at the annual Charity Game at Cleveland Browns Stadium on Saturday, it was the first time the two rival Lorain County high school teams squared off since 1960, when the Shore men blanked the Eagles, 26-0.

Both team's coaches agreed that it was a long time between kickoffs for the next-door neighbors.

"For years, our sports program grew as our community expanded, while Avon lagged behind, but Avon's booming now," said Avon Lake coach Dave Dlugosz, whose team leads the all-time series, which began in 1939, 16-11.

"This is great . . . two teams separated only by railroad tracks, locking horns, it doesn't get any better," said first-year head coach Mike Elder, who led Perry to a 9-3 record last season.

The coaches weren't the only ones happy about the rekindled rivalry. Ohio High School Athletic Association Commissioner Dan Ross, the former superintendent of Avon Lake schools, beamed as he conducted the coin toss, won by Avon.

"Don't ask me who I'm rooting for," said Ross, laughing ...''

To reach this Plain Dealer reporter: cmatzelle@plaind.com

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