This page was last updated on: December 3, 2007
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Avon 13, Ellington/Somers 6
Copyright 2007,
Collinsville Publishing Co.
Avon 13, Ellington 6
At Ellington
Avon (9-1)        0  7  6  0 – 13
Ellington (7-2)  0  0  6  0 – 6
Second quarter
A: Mike D’Onofrio 1 run (David Wyrick kick), 7:19
A: M. D’Onofrio 60 run (kick blocked), 5:19
Third quarter
E: Mel Thorne 28 pass from Peter Vamvilis (pass fails), 3:05
Individual statistics
RUSHING: Avon – Ross McDonald 12-35, David Wyrick 10-48, Mike D’Onofrio 17-106, Patrick Leszcyznski 1-1; Ellington/Somers – Derek Lussier 6-16, Shane Hatheway 7-32, Peter Vamvilis 3-12, Sam Ziter 15-118, Deadrick Baker, Jr., 1-minus 2, Cody Anselmo 1-5
PASSING: Avon – Wyrick 7-11-0, 38; Ellington/Somers -- Vamvilis 7-13-1, 71
RECEIVING: Avon – Andy Roell 4-42, Terence Olsen 1-6, McDonald 2-minus 3; Ellington/Somers – Hatheway 1-6, Mel Thorne 2-46, Derek Lussier 3-23, Ziter 1-minus 3
SACKS: Avon – Zak Locke 1-10; INTERCEPTIONS: Mike D’Onofrio 1-38
FUMBLE RECOVERY: Zak Blawie (A) 1, Mel Thorne (E) 1, Terence Olsen (A) 2
RETURNS: Nate Tembi (Ellington) 1-6 kickoff, 1-9 punt; Ryan Moustafa (E) 2-23 kickoff,  D.J. McDonald (A) 1-10 kickoff, David Wyrick (A) 1-10 kickoff
Avon Football Online
Avon, Connecticut
Avon Football Online
ELLINGTON, Nov. 17 – For the first time in 14 years, you can call the Avon High football team champions.

The Falcons clinched the Pequot Conference’s Uncas Division championship with its ninth straight win Saturday, a hard-fought 13-6 win over Ellington/Somers. Avon finishes the regular season at 9-1 and 8-0 in the Uncas Division for its first championship since winning the four-team NCCC in 1993.

Three times, Ellington drove inside the Falcon 20-yard line and twice, they made it inside the 10-yard line. They didn’t score a point. On one of the three drives, the Knights had first and goal from the five.

Twice, Avon forced Ellington to turn the ball over on downs and the third time, Mike D’Onofrio ran back an interception from the goal line 38 yards.

“It feels great,” Avon coach Brett Quinion said. “They’re trailblazers. It says a lot about them. They’ve come a long way.” A year ago, the Falcons were 5-5. In 2004, they were 4-6. Three years ago, the Falcons were 1-9.

It’s the second-longest winning streak in school history and the longest since Avon won eight straight in 1983. It’s only the second time in school history that the Falcons have won nine games in a single season. Avon went 9-1 in 1980.

But it wasn’t easy. Ellington/Somers (7-2, 5-2 Pequot Uncas) was fighting for a share of the division title and a spot in the CIAC’s Class MM playoffs. The Knights took the opening kickoff and marched to the Falcon 5-yard line on a methodical 14-play drive that ate up 6:30.

But the Falcons stiffened and pushed the Knights back, capped off when Zak Locke ran Ellington QB out of bounds for a 10-yard loss on fourth and goal from the seven.

Avon responded with an impressive drive of its own, marching 83 yards on 21 plays and eating up a whopping 10:11 on the clock. The Falcons faced third down six times on the drive and they converted five times. The one time they didn’t convert on third down, they converted on fourth down.

Twice Falcon QB David Wyrick hit senior receiver Andy Roell (4-42) with pass completions to gain crucial first downs. Wyrick scrambled for a 13-yard gain on one third down play and freshman Ross McDonald rambled six yards for a first down.
D’Onofrio capped off the drive with a 1-yard run for the score. An extra point by Wyrick made it 7-0 with 7:19 left in the first half.

On Ellington’s next possession, the Knights fumbled the ball away after a 12-yard gain by Sam Ziter and Blawie recovered. Two plays later, D’Onofrio (17-106) broke through the Ellington line into open space and ran away with a 60-yard TD run. The extra point was blocked but Avon led, 13-0.

D’Onofrio finishes the regular season with 1,042 yards rushing.

Late in the second quarter, Ellington recovered a Wyrick fumble and took over on the Falcon 39-yard line. They drove to the 16 but D’Onofrio batted down a potential touchdown pass in the end zone with 1:10 left in the second quarter and on the next play, he intercepted Ellington QB Peter Varnvilis at the goal line and returned the ball 38 yards.

On its opening drive of the second half, Ellington began on its own 19 and marched to the Falcon 28 where they faced fourth down and 14 yards to go. But Varnvilis scrambled enough to find received Mel Thorne open in the end zone for a 28-yard TD pass to cut the lead to seven, 13-6 with 3:05 left in the third quarter. A two-point conversion pass failed.

Sparked by a 36-yard run by Ziter (game-high 118 yards on 15 carries), Ellington marched to the Falcon 14 with about 9:07 left in the fourth quarter. But again the Falcons stiffened and Varnvilis’ fourth down pass from the Avon 8 fell incomplete with 7:19 left in the game.

A few first downs and the Falcon victory would be complete. But the Knights made Avon work for it.

Avon faced fourth down and inches from its own 18-yard line with about 5:00 to go. And they went for it. “That wasn’t the brightest call,” Quinion admitted afterward. “But I was trying to send a message to the team. If you can't get that short yardage, you probably don’t deserve to be here anyways.”

Behind a nice opening from his offensive line, D’Onofrio ran to his right for a three-yard gain.

Ellington forced Avon to punt but Ellington punt returner Nate Tembi dropped the ball and Terence Olsen was right there to recover on the Falcon 43 with 3:39 to go. With about a minute to go, Ellington again forced Avon to punt but this time, the punt deflected off punt returner Deadrick Baker and Olsen recovered again with 53 seconds to go to clinch the contest and a championship.

“It’s a great feeling,” said D’Onofrio, with turf still stuck to the side of his helmet. “All the hard work, summer lifting, summer practices in the heat … it feels great.”

PLAYOFFS: Thanks to Weaver’s stunning 35-0 shutout of New Britain, Avon’s playoff chances are virtually gone. But Quinion was proud of his team and what they accomplished in 2007. Avon is sixth in the Class M rankings but only the top four qualify for the playoffs.

“A record of 9-1 is a lot to be proud of,” he said. “No matter if we make the playoffs or not. I tell them all the time, I don’t judge them on their wins and losses. I judge them on how efficient they are and by their character.”

NOTES: D’Onofrio wasn’t at 100 percent, suffering from an illness so he didn’t carry the ball as much offensively. The load fell to Wyrick (10-48) and freshman Ross McDonald (12-35). Still, D’Onofrio had the big interception and some big tackles defensively. … Wyrick punted after Jared Marshall got hit in the head during a play. … The longest winning streak in school history is 11 set in the 1966-67 season.
Call 'em champs
Falcons beat Knights
for first title since 1993
Previous titles
Northwest Conference (4): 1967, 1971, 1980 shared, 1983 shared
North Central Conn. Conference (7): 1987, 1988, 1989, 1991, 1990 shared,  1992 shared, 1993

Uncas Division
Team Lg.  Over.
y-Avon             8-0       9-1
Tolland           6-1       9-3
Elling/Som     5-2      7-3
Coventy /WT   5-2      5-5
Housy/Wam   4-4      6-4
Stafford/EW    2-5      2-7
Gilbert/NWR   2-6      2-8
Canton            0-5       0-10
W.Locks/Suff  0-6       0-9

Wednesday, Nov. 21
Vinal Tech/Coginchaug 37, Canton 14
Thursday, Nov. 22
Housatonic 42, Gilbert 12
Tolland 38, Ellington 0
Cromwell 41, Coventry 7