Avon Grove Homecoming 2016
● By Steven Hoffman
Avon Grove Head Coach Harry O’ Neill’s frustration was almost palpable.
Moments after watching his team lose a hard-fought game to West Chester East in front of a large and boisterous Homecoming crowd, O’ Neill grappled with the harsh reality that, despite his team’s best efforts, they were on the wrong end of a 21-3 score because of a few plays.
West Chester East’s standout running back Jared Cooper ran for 213 yards, but a vast majority of those yards came on three big plays—a 20-yard touchdown early in the second quarter, a 69-yard score in the third quarter, and a 51-yard touchdown in the opening minute of the fourth quarter. Those three plays spoiled what was otherwise a lot of good, hard work by Avon Grove’s defensive unit.
So O’ Neill’s frustration was almost palpable—and understandable.
On offense, Avon Grove managed to move the ball at times, especially with the hard running of their standout running back, Nate Jones, who amassed 71 tough yards against West Chester East’s formidable defense. Avon Grove starting quarterback Joey Borcky turned in some nice plays, too, including some good runs and a well-designed 14-yard pass play to Kevin Francis deep in West Chester East territory in the second quarter. Each time West Chester East’s defense was challenged in the Red Zone, they responded, and the only points that Avon Grove could put on the board was a 26-yard field goal by Kevin Sheehan with 6:26 left to play in the second quarter. Borcky suffered a hand injury, and backup quarterback Shane Wolford entered the game in the fourth quarter. He played well, and made several nice passes, including a beautiful nine-yarder to Tyler Boyd on a crucial fourth-and-six play. But Avon Grove continued to struggle scoring points.
“We’re not finishing our drives on offense, and that’s something we need to work on,” O’Neill said.
One of the issues, O’Neill said, is that opposing defenses are loading the box to stop Nate Jones because they know Avon Grove would rather run the ball than pass it. O’ Neill said that they want to find a way to make defenses space out more, and they also want to find more creative ways to get the ball in Jones’ hands.
After starting the year with wins over Kennett and Oxford, Avon Grove is now 2-3. They will look to get back on the winning track when they travel to Octorara on Friday night.
“I know our guys won’t quit,” O’ Neill said. “There are no easy games on our schedule. We have to compete and execute.”