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Strong rushing attacks clash in Class 9B battle between Colome and Avon

Brooke Cersosimo/Republic Avon's Devin Tolsma (26) tries to fend off a Corsica/Stickney defender during a high school football game Oct. 5 in Corsica.1 / 2
Brooke Cersosimo/Republic Colome's Andrew Odden runs the ball in the first quarter against Plankinton in a high school football game Sept. 21 in Plankinton.2 / 2

COLOME -- No. 7-seeded Avon is looking to return to the Class 9B championship game, but first, the Pirates will have to survive their quarterfinal matchup against No. 2 Colome.

The game is slated for 7 p.m. Monday in Colome.

With a first-round victory over Bison, the Cowboys reached the quarterfinals for the first time since 2009.

The game will be a battle of the running game as it is a strength for both teams, whose last meeting was in 2008.

Avon (6-3) averages 245 rushing yards per game and recorded 294 rushing yards against Centerville in the first round of the playoffs.

Brandon Kocmich, who sat out with an injury for a few games earlier in the season, is Avon's leading rusher with 56 carries for 811 yards and 13 touchdowns on the year. Devin Tolsma also plays a big part in the Pirates' offense as he has 78 carries for 607 yards and nine touchdowns this season.

Avon head coach Tom Culver said he thinks his team has a slight advantage offensively.

"I think we've got a little advantage speed-wise and they've got more size," he said. "They've scored quickly on a lot of their opponents this year, but if we can get them a little frustrated and be patient, we'll be able to make a run for it."

Andrew Odden and Terrance Kinzer lead Colome, which averages 272 rushing yards per game this season, on the ground. Odden has 167 carries for 1,091 yards and 13 touchdowns, while Kinzer has 117 carries for 953 yards and 19 touchdowns on the season.

Cowboys head coach Kevin Keiser said his team has had success running the ball all season.

"We've got a big offensive line and they are very physical," Keiser said. "That's our strength and hopefully we can dominate up front and get the run going.

"We've got to control the turnovers and limit their big plays. They're a scary team because they're young, and I think they've really improved within the past few years."

Culver said his team has a lot of new faces who haven't experienced the playoff routine.

"Kocmich, Tolsma and Taylor Mudder have all been through this stuff before, but this is the first go around for everybody else," the Pirates' coach said. "I know some of our kids are a little nervous, but hopefully when they step out on the field the nerves will go away and it'll be just another game."

Keiser, whose team has home field advantage throughout the postseason as the No. 2 seed, said playing at home will be an advantage in this 9B matchup.

"Anytime you can play at home and have your crowd behind you, that's an advantage and that's a benefit that we want to use," Keiser said.

Brooke Cersosimo
Brooke Cersosimo is The Daily Republic's sports editor.