Football At Avon
Looking to build on the momentum from last year, this year’s football team entered camp with high expectations and lofty goals. This team was led by captains Burton Fricke (Senior Linebacker), Will Rosenblatt (Senior Linebacker), James Wilborn (Junior Linebacker), and Tyler Phommachanh (Junior Quarterback) who set out to win an Erickson League Championship and a New England Bowl Championship. The 2019 Winged Beavers of Avon Old Farms completed an undefeated regular season, finished alone atop the Erickson League, and ended the campaign as New England Championship Runners-Up. However, this season cannot be measured by wins and losses or statistics alone. This group of young men represented well the community of Avon Old Farms as fierce competitors, sportsmen, and citizens. This was a team that fought for each other and the name on the front of the jersey until the final whistle on November 16th.
The season began on Ryan Field as Avon Old Farms hosted the Pride of Trinity-Pawling. Avon got off on the right foot and enjoyed a convincing week one win by a score of 38-13. Led on offense by Tyler Phommachanh in his debut as the starter who threw for over 300 yards and three touchdowns, two of which to Senior Brown University commit Graham Walker. This game also saw Post-Graduate Nehemiah Thompson start his record-setting season score his first touchdown in the Crimson and Navy on a 15-yard touchdown run on what would go on to be known affectionately as Jet-1-Right. Led on defense by Burton Fricke’s sound tackling and a timely interception by Senior CB Peter Ryan, Avon prepared to go on the road in week two.
In week two, Avon traveled to the Kent School and again found success and left enjoying a 42-10 victory. This week led by an opportunistic defense that got their hands on three Kent passes, once each by sophomore Jon Oris, and seniors Kai Grocki and Drew Monin. Phommachanh had a prolific day through the air throwing for six touchdowns, three of which to junior wide receiver Josh Tracey with a long of 65 yards. Also catching touchdowns were Graham Walker, Post-Graduate Wyatt Wilson, and James Wilborn. The momentum from the hot start continued to build as Avon returned home.
Week three saw the Wildcats of Williston Northampton come to Ryan Field. Though a new opponent, Avon saw similar results. This time offensively, however, on the ground. Gaining 240 yards and only 20 carries, Nehemiah Thompson scored five touchdowns and contributed to Avon’s best performance of the year on offense. Avon’s offense totaled 520 yards as Phommachanh added three more touchdowns to his total to Walker and Oris. The defense was lead by Kevin Coss and James Wilborn, each recording two tackles for a loss, and was capped by a late interception by Graham Walker.
In week four, Avon traveled to Hotchkiss. Avon was faced with adversity as starting quarterback Tyler Phommachanh went down with a shoulder injury and didn’t return to action. Back-up quarterback Xavier Copening led the Winged Beavers on three scoring drives and threw a long touchdown pass to Josh Tracey down the far sideline. The defense rose to the occasion and only allowed seven points on 200 yards. Drew Monin and Burton Fricke led the way up front and sophomore safety Marco Scarano and Peter Ryan added interceptions of their own.
Avon hosted Taft on a beautiful late Autumn Saturday for Family Weekend. The game had an exciting back and forth tempo, but Avon proved to be too much for the Rhinos this day. Avon’s run game was the story this week. Nehemiah Thompson rushed for all of the Winged Beaver’s six touchdowns as he carried the ball 31 times for 275 yards ending the day in style with a 50-yard fourth-quarter run down the home sidelines. Scarano made several plays at the line of scrimmage and intercepted a Taft pass deflected by fellow sophomore Kenny Soares. This was a game won in the trenches. Both lines dominated a stout Taft front and were led by Jaedon Roberts, Coss, and post-graduate Arthur Long. The game was a great end to a fantastic weekend that also marked the Investiture of Headmaster Jim Detora.
The game of the year came in week six when Avon traveled to Brunswick to take on the Bruins on their Homecoming Weekend. Another back and forth game was won in overtime by the Winged Beavers behind several gutsy performances. Drew Monin recorded more than 12 tackles and forced a key fumble that allowed Avon to get back in the game. Coss and Roberts were instrumental in stopping a Brunswick rushing attack that had been formidable all year. Scarano, Ryan, and Walker patrolled the secondary and kept Brunswick out of the endzone at key times. On offense, it was a balanced attack. Though throwing a costly interception that was returned for a touchdown, Phommachanh threw for 200 yards and two touchdowns, most importantly the fourth-down game-winner to Graham Walker in overtime. Thompson rushed for nearly 200 yards and three touchdowns. The game was sealed by an interception by Walker and Avon escaped keeping their undefeated season intact.
At home, on Senior Night, Avon played host to Exeter in week seven. Josh Tracey caught all three of Phommachanh’s touchdowns that night and Thompson added two touchdowns to his growing season total. However, it was the defense that stole the show. Allowing just over 200 yards, and behind dominating efforts by both the front seven and the secondary, the defense pitched a shutout for 47 minutes. Exeter scored on the final play of the game making the score 42-6. Before going on the road to play in the final game of the season, this game served as an appropriate and fitting way to send out a group of seniors who have enjoyed a great deal of success on Ryan Field, and to honor their parents and families for all of the sacrifices they’ve made and for their support of the program.
Avon traveled to Salisbury in week eight with an undefeated record looking to finish strong. The Avon Army came out in full force and in freezing temperatures provided a great atmosphere for the regular season closer. As was the case in the final half of the season, this was a back and forth affair once again ending in overtime. Phommachanh had another outstanding performance throwing for four touchdowns, two to Tracey and two to Wilson including the game-winner in overtime. Defensively, Ryan and Walker added interceptions to their season totals, Monin fought through injury and recorded double-digit tackles, and Soares recovered a fumble and returned it for a touchdown and forced overtime following a Jack Ryan extra point. This game had all the ingredients for an instant classic by itself but singing Men of Avon together as a Brotherhood, Army and players in enemy territory will be a memory that will last the students a lifetime.
Avon fell just short of accomplishing their last goal. In front of a packed house, Avon took the field against a Suffield Academy team that was also undefeated and played a bit better on that day. While falling to Suffield by a score of 29-21, Avon saw a few players cap off in some cases record-setting seasons. Tyler Phommachanh threw for 27 touchdowns. Josh Tracey caught 12 touchdowns. Both Tracey and Graham Walker had more than 800 receiving yards. Nehemiah Thompson rushed for 1,000 yards and scored 19 touchdowns. Both Drew Monin and Marco Scarano recorded more than 85 tackles, Kevin Coss recorded 10 sacks, Peter Ryan secured four interceptions and the defense as a whole held all teams combined to less than 800 yards rushing. This was a season of many impressive individual accomplishments, but it was the productivity of the team as a whole that will be their lasting legacy.
Finally, Avon placed several players on end-of-season superlative teams. The following were named to the All-Erickson League Team: Jaedon Roberts, Kevin Coss, Nehemiah Thompson, Drew Monin, Tyler Phommachanh, Graham Walker, and Josh Tracey. Jaedon Roberts was voted the Erickson League Player of the Year.
Lastly, Jaedon Roberts, Kevin Coss, and Nehemiah Thompson were voted onto the All New-England Team for Class A. Jaedon Roberts was NEPSAC Class A Lineman of the Year.
On December 18th, Jaedon Roberts and Wyatt Wilson signed National Letters of Intent with the University of California and the USA Air Force Academy, respectively. Four additional seniors committed to play collegiate football:
Kevin Coss, Brown University
Lucas MacKay, Lehigh University
Peter Ryan, Trinity College
Graham Walker, Brown University
2019 was a season full of memorable plays and exciting moments, but what will forever be the legacy of the 2019 Winged Beavers will be the way they played for each other and never gave up. At times it took all 48 minutes, but that was what they were willing to do to carry the culture of the football team at Avon Old Farms forward and leave behind a legacy of winning. A senior who has been at AOF for four years has a record of 29-6. He has won three Erickson League Championships, twice in an undefeated fashion. He has played for three New England Bowls, twice for a New England Championship. He has never lost to Salisbury, and has only one regular-season loss on Ryan Field. This team, and specifically the senior class, has given this community countless memories and helped formed relationships both on and off the team that will last a lifetime.